Take last step to voter access | Wire Commentary – Herald and News

Posted: February 14, 2020 at 1:42 am

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Oregon voters generally have it good. Vote-by-mail allows us to vote at home, while, beginning with the first election this year, the state will pick up the postage if we return ballots by mail. And, thanks to a relatively new law that registers voters automatically when they apply for or renew a drivers license, would-be voters dont even have to bother to take time to register.

There is one more step lawmakers could take to make it even easier to vote, however. As Jennifer Williamson, one of the Democratic candidates for Secretary of State, said recently, allowing Oregonians to register to vote on the day of the election would open voting up to people who, for now, are denied the privilege.

Actually, allowing same-day registration would be a return to the old ways in this state. It had been part of the Oregon Revised Statutes since 1979, but voters got rid of it in November, 1986, when they approved Ballot Measure 13 by a nearly 2-1 margin. The measure, a constitutional amendment, was proposed in the wake of attempts by followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh to pack voter rolls in Wasco County in 1984 by busing homeless men and women from the Portland area to The Dalles to register to vote.

If Oregon is serious about making sure every citizen of the state has a right to vote and that its relatively easy for each of us to do so, its time to return to the pre-1986 good old days. Same-day voter registration was, in fact, a problem, though only briefly. Since then the technology to verify and track information about individuals has improved dramatically, making the risk of another major attempt to register people fraudulently unlikely.

Meanwhile, the change would close a loophole that keeps some Oregonians, among them newcomers, from casting ballots in state elections. Thats a loophole ripe for closing.

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Take last step to voter access | Wire Commentary - Herald and News

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February 14th, 2020 at 1:42 am