Last Thursday, we were very fortunate to be joined by Jennifer Clark, Counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program and the Honorable Phillip Keisling, Director of the Center for Public Service, located in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University and former Oregon Secretary of State to discuss promising reforms to voting and elections. If you were unable to attend the webinar, you can watch it now on Nonprofit VOTE’s YouTube channel, download the PowerPoint, and/or listen to the audio recording.
In particular, Ms. Clark provided an overview of trends in voter registration that at the very least reduce barriers to voter registration that disproportionately impact low income earners, youth, and less established populations such as Latinos, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Ms. Clark also provided an review of some of the less fortunate developments in voting and elections, including the trend toward onerous voter ID laws. In just the few days since our webinar, there have been several positive developments with regard to voter ID and other issues. Doug Chapin has a rundown of those developments here and then a follow up here.
Secretary Keisling discussed a fairly recent development in how voters access their ballot known as Universal Voter by Mail (UVBM) or “Vote at Home.” UVBM aims to increase turnout among those already registered to vote by transferring the burden for accessing one’s ballot from the voter to the government. In most states voters must either apply for an absentee ballot or travel to an early voting or Election Day polling location in order to access their ballot. In UVBM states – currently Oregon, Washington, and Colorado – the state mails a ballot to every registered voter. The results are promising. For more on UVBM, see Nonprofit VOTE’s founder George Pillsbury’s recent blog post.