Oregon Secretary of State Democratic candidate Mark Hass called Tuesday for a constitutional amendment that would allow residents to register up through the day of an election.
Current law closes registration 21 days before the election.
Here is the proposal as laid out in a news release from Hass, a state representative from Beaverton and one of four Democratic candidates for the position:
Same-day voter registration
Oregonians have never been shy about speaking their minds and voicing their opinions. Unfortunately, our state’s antiquated voter registration law restricts access to the ballot rather than channeling that passion by making it easier to vote.
Oregon requires residents to register at least 21 days before an election – just about the same time when many Oregonians are getting engaged in the election cycle. This creates an unnecessary obstacle for people already busy with kids, work, and everyday life.
In the 20 states that have done this, Election Day registration has increased voter turnout. Studies have also concluded this boosts voter turnout percentages. It’s time Oregon join these states to allow more Oregonians a chance to participate in elections through same-day voter registration.
Article II, section 2 (1) (c) requires a voter to be “registered not less than 20 calendar days immediately preceding any election.”
This was a fairly standard time frame that allowed county clerks and elections officials time to process papers and add names to voter rolls. Other states have deadlines that range between eight and 30 days before the election. But as technology has improved, this process can easily be done in seconds.
While Oregon’s automatic voter registration process through the DMV is improving voter turnout, it still does not capture a large percentage of eligible voters.
Oregon voters should be asked whether they want same-day voter registration.
Once passed, the Secretary of State will establish proof of residency rules that would be required to register to vote. This would be a current driver’s license or other documents to verify identity and residence.
A statewide real-time check system will ensure that only eligible Oregonians can register to vote.
It would remain a felony crime for fraudulently registering to vote.
In addition to streamlining the process, a same-day system would make sure prospective voters aren’t shut out from participating in the weeks leading up to an election, when debates and news coverage bring the issues to the forefront of our brains.
With the current system, by the time new voters are energized to head to the polls, the clock has already run out on voter registration. A system designed to not work for the voters is unjust.
“We must move same-day voter registration in Oregon,” Hass concluded.