Oregon Puts Historic New Voting Law in Action
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Politics and Activism

Oregon Puts Historic New Voting Law in Action

New law in Oregon automates voter registration through the DMV

Oregon Puts Historic New Voting Law in Action

On January 1 of this year, a controversial law was put into place in the state of Oregon. The new law says that any resident of Oregon over 18 with a drivers license is now automatically registered to vote. Simply put, it's an automatic voter registration.

This new law did not pass without criticism. Many American conservatives are accusing Oregon, a typically liberal state, of using this law as a tactic for more democratic votes. According to these critics, Oregon citizens living in this country illegally have the ability of obtaining a drivers license, now allowing them to vote. Many of these critics also claim that these illegal citizens will vote Democrat, and against conservative views.

The Secretary of State took a step to combat criticism on the official State of Oregon website. Jeanne Atkins' office published an F.A.Q. page that discusses the new law. The page describes House Bill 2177 as a program that "modernizes voter registration in Oregon and provides a secure, simple and convenient way for more Oregonians to be registered voters".

A common question on the F.A.Q. page that has been asked by critics is "What are my options?". According to Secretary Jeanne Atkins,

"With the Oregon Motor Voter card, you have three options:
Do nothing. You will be registered to vote as a nonaffiliated voter (not a member of a political party).
Choose a political party by returning the card. Joining a political party will allow you to vote in its primary elections.
Use the card to opt-out and decline to register to vote."

For some voters who wish to vote in the primaries and be affiliated with a specific party, the new law may seem as if it adds more of a hassle to the primaries process. Despite the new law, the process is still similar to the one before this year in Oregon.

Many questions and criticisms are surrounding how automated the entire process is. In response to citizen's frustrations, the F.A.Q. page lays out how to opt out of voter registration. For example, questions arose of opting-out due to religious reasons. Questions also arose around the relationship between voter registration and privacy and security. According to the website, there were questions involving putting domestic violence victims at risk.

To many citizens in Oregon, this new law is historic in terms of voter rights. America has a long history of withholding voting rights from minorities in this country, and it can be refreshing to see such a large step forward for citizen rights.

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