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Motor Voter
After four years, the impacts are finally being felt

In 2015 the Oregon Legislature passed Motor Voter, in the form of HB 2177 which directs the DMV to effectively turn over data from every eligible unregistered voter (over 16 years old, an Oregon resident, and a US citizen) when they visit the DMV to apply for, renew, or replace an Oregon drivers’ license, ID card, or permit. Each time this happens, the voter will receive a mailing from the Oregon Elections Division explaining their options for registering to vote.​ ​With the card, they can:
One thing that Motor Voter has done, is effectively register everyone in the state to vote. The only way to not be registered to vote is to be ineligible or to take actions to not be registered to vote. Even then, you still might find yourself registered to vote. This has had two major side-effects.

The first is that persons eligible to sign initiative, referendum and recall petitions has increased. You have to be an Oregon registered voter to sign any of these, and with the increase in registered voters, the pool of possible signers has increased -- without increasing the threshold for the number of signatures needed.

Second, it has made voter registration drives a thing of the past. Political parties and civic organizations who formerly did this find very slim pickings now.

These numbers are from July 2020, so they change over time, but absent any change in the drivers of the underlying data, the conclusions from them should be stable.

The population of Oregon was 4,217,737 according to the US Census Bureau, but 20.5% of those were under 18 and ineligible to vote, leaving 3,353,101 voting age people in Oregon. Of those, 2,843,060 are registered to vote, leaving 510,041 voting age unregistered persons. Subtract from that an unknown number of non-citizens, persons who don't wish to register to vote, and slackers who have been removed from the voter rolls due to having relocated (if your vote-by-mail ballot is returned, you are placed in inactive status) and you are left with very few people who are fine citizens and worthy of chasing down and registering.

In the 2015 session, Motor Voter was passed and it took effect in January of 2016. It's now been over 4 years and, as one might expect since drivers licenses expire every four years, the increase in voter registrations has plateaued almost exactly 4 years from the law going into effect. This chart shows voter registration over time. Notice how the grey line (non-affiliated voters) levels off in about January of 2020?


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-14 13:53:50Last Update: 2020-10-14 20:58:21



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