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Oregon tops for ease of voting with 'motor voter' registration, mailed ballots

Oregon is one of three states, including Colorado and Washington, that send ballots in the mail to all registered voters.

SALEM, Ore. — As Oregonians fill out their ballots for the Nov. 6 general election, usually in the comfort of their home, they can rest easy knowing voting here is easier than anywhere else in the country.

A new study by researchers at Northern Illinois University, Jacksonville University and China’s Wuhan University looked to quantify how much time and effort it takes to vote based on a state's election laws.

Oregon came out on top thanks to the state's "motor voter" law, which registers all eligible Oregonians when they obtain or renew a drivers license or identification card, and mail-in voting which allows a few weeks to complete and submit a ballot.

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Oregon is one of three states, including Colorado and Washington, that send ballots in the mail to all registered voters.

Colorado ranked second, California third and Washington 11th in the ease-of-voting rankings.

At the bottom is Mississippi, which researchers identified as having no early or no-excuse absentee voting. The state also requires valid photo ID at the polls.

To create the ranking, researchers looked at a state's election laws which fell into seven areas: registration deadlines, restrictions on registrations and voter registration drives, laws on preregistration of people under 18 ahead of their first election, inconvenience factors like lack of early or absentee voting, voter identification requirements and polling hours.

According to Secretary of State data, 2,174,763 people were registered to vote in the 2014 midterm election. Today, that number is 2,763,292.

Much of that growth can likely be attributed to automatic voter registration at the DMV — known as the Motor Voter Act — that went into effect January 2016.

With Election Day less than a week away, Oregonians should not mail their ballots anymore this election and should instead seek out a dropbox, said Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess.

Dropping a ballot into the mail now increases the risk that the county clerk will not receive the ballot until after the election.

The Secretary of State's office does not list a suggested last day to mail a ballot. Multnomah County elections officials say Thursday is the last safe day.

In Oregon, the mail ballot needs its own stamp. By contrast, in Washington, stamps are not needed. A ballot postmarked on election day is still counted.

Voters can find their nearest dropbox location at oregonvotes.gov/dropbox and MyVote in Washington. MyVote allows you to track the status of the ballot.

In many county-wide elections, Burgess said, the Marion County Clerk’s office receives hundreds of ballots after the election that, therefore, cannot be tallied. Some of these ballots are even postmarked on election day.

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