Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is proposing a bill that would add an estimated 300,000 voters to the state’s registry and eventually create one of the most complete voter rolls in the country. Under the law, eligible voters would be registered automatically by the state using records the DMV has on file. There would still be an option to opt out for those who did not want to register. Oregon come close to passing a similar bill in 2013.
Opponents of the bill believe that voters should take the initiative to register. “Government should nudge people to do the right thing but not force people,” said Representative Knute Buehler. Others are concerned about costs. In 2013, Brown’s office estimated it would cost the state about $300,000 to implement the proposed law and send the extra ballots and between $1.1 million and $1.3 million total for all counties.
Secretary Brown pointed out that “Voters already believe when they go to the DMV that they are automatically updating their information or they’re automatically registered to vote.” One county elections director noted that “It simplifies the administration of the voter registration process for both the voter and the elections office, and hopefully we get more people participating.”
The proposal, if passed, would be another in a string of election reforms used in Oregon before most other states, including online registration, and vote-by-mail.