SALEM - Oregon Secretary of state Kate Brown wants to increase the number of people registered to vote by signing them up automatically and electronically with information held by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Newly registered voters would be sent a post card asking if they wanted to join a party, stay independent or opt out of being registered.
“The problem is, most folks who are interested in voting wake up about the time of the election. That’s when ballots are out and because of our cutoff, they would not be eligible to register and participate at that point in time,” said Brown.
Oregon was one of the first state's in the country to adopt "vote by mail."
The method of voting led to 82-percent of registered voters casting a ballot in the November 2012 general election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
The plan would add a half-million new voters, according to one estimate. But would it favor one party?
Democrats, for example, had 187,000 more registered voters in the last election. Wouldn’t it boost their numbers even higher?
“Being a registered voter is a good thing,” said Oregon Republican Party Executive Director, Greg Leo, who thinks automatic registration might benefit his party.
“If they have never thought about what party to join, they have to examine which party makes more sense to them. Is it the party of smaller government, less taxes-or is it the party of bigger government and more taxes? Given those questions I think many people would choose to be Republicans,” said Leo.
People outside the North Salem Department of Motor Vehicles office had mixed reactions.
“I think it’s a good idea," said Dennis Winder.
“Makes it a lot easier and a lot of people more prepared for voting process without having to send it in. It can be a real hassle when you're working all day, every single day,” said Ryan Boulton.
But not everyone is in favor, some feel it’s one more, unwanted intrusion by the state.
“Stay out of my life,” said a man named Carl, who said he used to vote but is now not registered and does not want to be.
The idea is moving through the legislature as an amendment to HB 2198.