Seventeen years after Oregon decided to become the first state to hold all elections with mail-in ballots, it took another pioneering step on Monday to broaden participation by automatically registering people to vote.
Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill that puts the burden of registration on the state instead of voters.
Under the legislation, every adult citizen in Oregon who has interacted with the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division since 2013 but hasn’t registered to vote will receive a ballot in the mail at least 20 days before the next statewide election. The measure is expected to add about 300,000 new voters to the rolls.
Individuals who are registered to vote under the new law will have to affirmatively “opt out” if they choose not to be registered to vote and/or they don’t want to automatically receive ballots in the mail.
If we’re going to go down this road of the state taking responsibility for voting, why not make it even easier? In addition to automatic registration I suggest we also “help” voters by doing the following:
- Pre-mark ballots based on how they voted in the last election (it’s a lot of work filling in all those bubbles!). If voters want to change their votes, they can “opt out” of their assigned ballot and affirmatively request a new one.
- If voters fail to return their ballots on time, we should just assume that they meant to vote the same way they voted in the last election.
- We can enlist the help of Google to determine how voters should be voting based on their search histories. Individuals who spend time on sites like TMZ and BuzzFeed should be counted as Democrats; those who spend time researching the Constitution and listening to Rush Limbaugh online should be marked as Republicans.
In light of the developments in Oregon, doesn’t it seem a little unfair that the votes of Congress members from Oregon carry the same weight as votes from members who represent states with strong voter integrity laws?