Oregon’s Secretary of State Kate Brown is seeking to make voter registration of individuals automatic. Brown’s plan, would allow Oregon to automatically register new voters at the time they apply for a driver’s license. Those new voters would initially be registered as unaffiliated with any political party. At a later date, they’d receive a postcard by mail allowing them to choose a party affiliation or opt out of voter registration altogether, should they desire.
Since 1998, Oregon has had a unique voting system in place whereby people registered voters receive ballots in the mail, which they can return by mail or drop off at designated sites. Oregon has one of the highest voting rates in the country but 25% of eligible voters are not registered to vote.
If approved, Oregon will become the first state in the country to automatically register people to vote.
As pointed out in a Governing.com article critics argue that it shouldn’t necessarily be easy to register to vote. “What we really need is an American electorate that takes the time to study the issues,” says Greg Leo, executive director of the Oregon Republican Party. “All of these things move away from that. We make it so easy for people to participate that I worry they won’t take the time to be an informed voter and to really study the issues.” Leo says it’s not just the act of voting that’s an important responsibility of citizenship — but the act of registering to vote is meaningful too, and the government shouldn’t take it upon itself to handle it.
What do you think about automatic registration of people when they apply for a drivers license?