According to Oregon Governor Kate Brown, using an automatic voter registration system has been a “phenomenal success” in her state, broadening the electorate and boosting registration among minorities, less urban, and less affluent voters.
She stated at the State Solutions Conference hosted by POLITICO that registration was a barrier to individuals participating in the process. “The right to vote is an essential component of citizenship, and it should be accessible to all citizens without obstacles like registration.”
The Democrat deliberately stated, “I think the good news is, in Oregon, we truly want people to vote in our state,” in response to those who have criticized programs intended to raise voter turnout.
Although she said her administration is exploring ways to integrate automatic voter registration into state agencies in addition to the Department of Motor Vehicles, where it is currently headquartered, she dubbed the adoption of the system in 2015 a “phenomenal accomplishment.”
According to her, the initiative helped Oregon jump from last place in the nation to second place in terms of the percentage of persons of color who are registered to vote. The new voters under the automatic voter registration system, according to her, “are less urban, less rich, and considerably more diverse than our regular voters who either register online or through the paper procedure,” she continued.
Brown also attributed the project with raising voter turnout in the midterm elections of last year from 43% to 60%, which she claimed could be supported by data separating new automatically registered voters from greater Democratic enthusiasm in the previous election.
She stated that she wanted to see automated voter registration introduced nationwide, but she issued a warning that the optimal means to do so would vary from state to state. She said that there would be a net gain from the endeavor since additional funds might be allocated to other election processes as a result of the effort.
“In the past, we invested millions of dollars, tens of thousands of hours, and hundreds of individuals in voter registration. This is great because that money, that time, and that effort can be better spent to engage, empower, and better educate our voters,” she said.
Brown dismissed the notion that Democrats would gain from automatic voter registration at the expense of Republicans.
The method does not automatically register new voters with party affiliation, which a voter would need to actively modify to participate in the state’s closed primary, according to the analyst, who estimated that “the [party affiliation] figures are on pace with around the registration.”
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