Oregon Just Made it a Heck of a Lot Easier to Vote

March 13th 2015

Alicia Lutes

UPDATE: MONDAY, 8:30PM PT --Governor Brown has signed the bill into law, making the law, dubbed the "Motor Voter Law," official.

"My answer is that we have the tools to make voter registration more cost effective, more secure and more convenient for Oregonians, so why wouldn't we?" said Brown.

When so many other states are trying to make it more difficult to vote — under the misleading guise of preventing voter fraud, an occurrence that has happened 31 times in the last billion ballots cast since 2001— Oregon just made it a heck of a lot easier.

For many people, the act of registering to vote itself can sometimes be a forgettable task — oft overlooked until an election is upon us (and usually by that time, it's too late to register). Oregon's House and Senate have now passed H.B. 2177, which looks to streamline that process by automatically registering anyone who gets a driver's license and offering an opt-out program should folks want to stay unregistered. It is projected that the mere act of auto-registering alone will add an estimated 300,000 additional voters to the current pool, an increase of 15 percent. It should also be noted that, in general, opt-out programs have a far greater rate of participation. And it's no secret we need higher voter turnouts in our elections.

Governor Kate Brown — who, as Secretary of State, proposed the bill in 2013 — has already said she'll sign the bill, which passed 17 to 13 in the Senate (and mostly along party lines — because politics) in favor, giving folks yet another reason to love Oregon. As if Portland's recent increased minimum wage for city workers (to $15 an hour!), their Death with Dignity laws, and their attempts to reshape public perception of marijuana weren't enough.

But not everyone is on board with the idea — or making voting easier. Several Oregon Republicans charge that the program undermines people's privacy and could lead to identity theft (as the information would have to be transferred from the DMV to election officials). And let's not forget about the ever-increasing list of states trying to make it harder to vote, like North Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado.

You can register to vote online at OurTime.Org.