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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Will Oregon’s Automatic Voter Registration Template Catch On?

Domenico Montenaro’s “Would Automatic Voter Registration Increase Turnout?” at NPR.org examines a tantalizing prospect for Democrats. As Montaro reports:

Go to renew your driver’s license in Oregon, and you will now be signed up to vote automatically…It’s the first state in the country with that sort of law, which is designed to make voting easier, and stands in contrast to the trend seen in the past several years in more conservative states…In Oregon, the law could swell voter rolls by hundreds of thousands. If other states follow suit, it could have a dramatic effect on the U.S. voting process.

Montenaro reports that Vermont and Pennsylvania are considering similar proposals. If it catches on in other blue states, it could dramatically increase voter registration rolls, political participation and perhaps spread to purple and even red states, as the public realizes the savings in taxpayer dollars. Sean McElwee recently reported, “if all states used a “motor voter” system, which allows voters to register at local DMVs, it would increase registration by 18 million. These measures have reduced political inequality, particularly in states with registration bias. EDR consistently leads to higher turnout.”
As Oregon Gov. Kate Brown put it at the law’s signing ceremony, “We have the tools to make voter registration more cost-effective, more secure and more convenient for Oregonians, so why wouldn’t we?” Voters are allowed to opt out of the system in Oregon, with three weeks notice.

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