Automatic voter registration has become a zeitgeisty election reform for Democrats, since Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the state’s first-in-the-nation measure into law and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton advocated for the method. Now, a voting rights group is making the proposal the centerpiece of its 2016 effort. The group, called iVote, will announce Monday that it will focus its efforts on creating campaigns to enact automatic voter registration laws in multiple states across the country, including swing states crucial to next year’s presidential election. The group plans to spend six to seven figures on the campaign. “We should be looking for ways to make it easier to vote and increase participation, not more burdensome to vote and suppress participation,” said Ellen Kurz, iVote’s founder and president. “Automatic voter registration will be a monumental step in guaranteeing more voters have their voices heard on Election Day.”
Hillary Clinton wants to make Oregon the model for her proposal to expand access to the ballot box. On March 16, Oregon became the first state in the nation to make voter registration automatic. The legislation, known as the “Motor Voter” law, will use information collected at the state Department of Motor Vehicles data to automatically register eligible voters. Speaking in Houston Thursday, Clinton cited Oregon’s example and said automatic registration should go national. Signing her state’s registration law, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, said, “I challenge every other state in this nation to examine their policies and find ways to ensure that there are as few barriers as possible in the way of a citizen’s right to vote.” Brown introduced in the bill January while Oregon secretary of state, and became Oregon governor the following month.
Earlier this month, Oregon became the first state in the nation to automatically register voters using data from the Department of Motor Vehicles, a move that stands in contrast to voting restrictions many states have enacted in recent years. “I challenge every other state in this nation to examine their policies and find ways to ensure that there are as few barriers as possible in the way of a citizen’s right to vote,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said at the bill’s signing ceremony. Most Americans are in favor of enacting a similar proposal in their own state, a new survey finds. A 54 percent majority of Americans say they’d favor an automatic registration law in their state, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, while 55 percent favor allowing eligible citizens to register on the day of an election.
Oregon made history recently when newly appointed Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation into law that makes voter registration automatic for Oregonians using driver’s license records. House Bill 2177 moved quickly through Oregon’s Democratically controlled Legislature — although similar legislation had failed in 2013. It was championed by then-Secretary of State Kate Brown as well as the Oregon Association of County Clerks (OACC). And on March 16, Brown got to sign her legislation into law. Now comes the hard part — implementing the new law.
California: Secretary of State Alex Padilla wants to adopt Oregon’s ‘motor voter’ law | Statesman Journal
Gov. Kate Brown’s “Motor Voter” law received significant national attention when it passed this month, and it has already found its first adopter in California, whose secretary of state said this week he plans to push for the same law. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said he believes the law could register millions of people to vote in his state, where about 7 million eligible voters have not signed up. “While many states are making it more difficult for citizens to vote, our neighbor to the north offers a better path,” Padilla said in a Tuesday press release. “I believe the Oregon model makes sense for California,”
Editorials: Is Oregon’s Automatic Voter Registration Law A Step Toward Universal Voting? | Russell Berman/The Atlantic
“I forgot to register.” It’s one of the frequently cited reasons that people give every year for not voting in America, as well as a convenient excuse that the state of Oregon this week took it away from its citizens. Under a law signed Monday by new Governor Kate Brown, any eligible Oregonian with a driver’s license will be automatically registered to vote and will receive a ballot by mail weeks before Election Day. The measure is the first of its kind in the nation, and state officials project it will add 300,000 people to a voter roll that now numbers about 2.2 million. Oregon has long been an early adopter of new voting methods, having shifted to an entirely vote-by-mail system in 1998. Passage of the law, which was supported by Democrats, marks a rare recent win for proponents of expanded access to the ballot box at a time when states are moving toward more restrictive measures. The U.S. has an embarrassingly low rate of voter participation, setting it apart from other democracies in the developed world; just over one-third of eligible voters showed up in 2014, and even in the relatively high turnout election of 2008, the participation rate was only 64 percent. Yet the debate over the Oregon “motor voter” law was contentious, and it hinged on a key question: How far should the government go to encourage citizens to register and vote?
For more than a decade, voting rights advocates have been on the defensive. They’ve resisted one effort after another to restrict access to the polls, efforts that got new life following the Florida election fiasco of 2000, when a large black turnout almost (or maybe did) put Al Gore over the top in the Sunshine State, and that reached full force following Barack Obama’s election in 2008. Between the 2010 and 2012 elections alone, governors signed into law 23 bills that imposed constraints on voting, including requiring photo ID at the polls and curtailing same-day registration and early voting. While there have been defensive victories here and there, the resistance has been futile in many states and not helped by the Supreme Court, which in 2008 ruled in favor of voter ID laws and in 2013 gutted key elements of the Voting Rights Act. But now, at least in one state, the voting rights camp is on the offensive, and it’s hard to overstate what a pivotal turn that represents in the nation’s long-running voting wars. Oregon’s new governor, Kate Brown, the former secretary of state who took over following the resignation of her fellow Democrat John Kitzhaber, has made headlines for being the nation’s first openly bisexual governor, but the bill she signed Monday is far more significant.
The civil rights marchers who were attacked in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 were attempting to register to vote. The question that people should be asking all these years later is: Why should anyone have to register at all? On Monday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a bill that eliminates the need for most citizens to submit registration forms in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote. That legislation, the first in the country, arises from a simple idea: Government should not force people to file more forms than necessary. (If you disagree, you may have a future career with the Internal Revenue Service.)
Call it “motor voter” on steroids. New legislation signed into law today in Oregon paves the way for the state to one day have close to 100% voter registration. The new law takes the federal “motor voter” law to new levels and registers a person to vote when they obtain or renew a state driver’s license or ID – and it’s partially retroactive. The law dictates that once residents interact with the state DMV – whether to get a license or ID for the first time, or renew an existing one – they’ll become registered to vote if they aren’t already. The registration will be provisional for 21 days, during which time applicants will be notified of their new status and be given a chance to become affiliated with a political party or to opt-out of the voting process altogether. In essence, Oregon will now be the first state to approach voting with an “opt-out” mindset, as opposed to “opt-in.”
Sweeping first-in-the nation legislation making voter registration automatic in Oregon was signed into law on Monday by Governor Kate Brown, potentially adding 300,000 new voters to state rolls. The so-called Motor Voter legislation will use state Department of Motor Vehicles data to automatically register eligible voters whose information is contained in the DMV system, with a 21-day opt-out period for those who wish to be taken off the registry. Supporters say the legislation’s goal is to keep young voters, students and working families who move often from losing their right to vote. Republican lawmakers, who unanimously voted against the bill, complain it puts Oregonians’ privacy at risk.