Expanding Voter Access, The Oregon Way


SALEM — This week marks the fourth anniversary of the signing of Oregon Motor Voter, and I want to take a moment to celebrate this revolutionary reform that has made Oregon the most modern, efficient, and secure state to vote in the country.

First in the US to Pass AVR

Governor Kate Brown signed Oregon Motor Voter (House Bill 2177) into law in March, 2015. Today, 90% of eligible Oregonians are registered to vote.

I’m proud that Oregon was the first state in the nation to pass automatic voter registration (AVR), which allows for any eligible person who signs up for a driver’s license or identification card to become automatically registered to vote. Thanks to AVR, Oregon has registered nearly 400,000 new potential voters helping ensure 90% of eligible Oregonians are registered to vote.

Oregon Led, 17 States Follow

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have since adopted some form of AVR. And just last week, the U.S. House of Representatives’ passed H.R. 1, which includes many Oregon democracy reforms, including AVR and vote by mail. I have high hopes that more states will move forward on this front and that the Senate should take necessary action to safeguard and ensure every eligible citizen should be able to register and cast their ballot free from barriers or restrictions.

Our work to expand voter access is helping people like Charles, a disabled, African American veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam. Charles was told by his commanders not to vote, that his voice wouldn’t make a difference. Thanks to AVR, Charles cast his very first ballot in 2016 in Oregon.

I think of people like Charles, who benefit from our work expanding democracy — and am reminded of my commitment to extend AVR to other state agencies to help ensure we close our registration gap, so that people like Charles don’t fall through the cracks.

I believe voting is our country’s greatest collective responsibility, and we must vigorously safeguard the sanctity of our elections. Oregon is often called a petri dish of good ideas and I’m proud this idea is taking hold.

About Author

Kate Brown, Oregon’s 38th Governor, has dedicated her life to standing up for Oregon’s families and ensuring every Oregonian has the chance to lead a good life. Under Governor Brown’s leadership, state government is committed to using every taxpayer dollar wisely, to creating a seamless system of education, to making Oregon a leader in meeting the challenge of climate change, and to making sure everyone has access to the health care.

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