If you have an Oregon drivers license issued in the last two years, you’re also registered to vote.
That’s the nut of a new law in Oregon that positions the state as leader in voter accessibility. By digitally linking Department of Motor Vehicles records to voter registration, anyone who has been to the DMV since 2013 will automatically be registered. If a resident moves their registration will automatically be updated when they update their DMV records. An estimated 300,000 citizens will benefit from this program.
Governor Kate Brown signed the bill into law yesterday. Seventeen years go, Oregon also became the first state to conduct all elections via mail-in ballot.
The Oregon DMV maintains records on age, address and citizenship – all the pertinent information required for voter registration. Oregon’s DMV already requires proof of citizenship or status via passport or birth certificate to issue a driver’s license.
Citizens will receive a postcard advising them that they have been automatically registered as unaffiliated. If they choose they can return the postcard to declare a party or opt out of voter registration. 20 days before Election Day all registered citizens will receive mail-in ballots.
Oregon has changed the way the state interacts with its electorate by shifting responsibility to state agencies to create maximum participation and ease of access. This paradigm shift is not without dissent. Opponents of the bill are concerned about cost, privacy and potential voter fraud.