Coming soon to Oregon: Online voter registration!

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Great news for fans of democracy: Yesterday, the Oregon Senate passed HB 2386 - approving online voter registration.

Online voter reg is a great thing for reaching out to young people and encouraging them to vote (and everybody else, too!). After all, it now means that we'll be able to send around the link to the voter registration site via email, facebook, and twitter.

As the Bus Project kids tweeted yesterday:

Online voter registration passes the Senate! Youth across Oregon express joy through emoticons. Democracy, FTW.

(That's "for the win" for the gamer-lingo-impaired.)

Oregon becomes the fourth state to make this happen, joining our Western neighbors - Washington, California, and Arizona. From the O's Jeff Mapes, yesterday:

In Washington last year, 25 percent of all new registrants did so over the internet, according to David Ammons, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office. He also said officials there have not found any problems with fraud.

Under the Oregon bill, would-be voters need to have a driver's license or state identification card to register online. The signature they use for their license or ID card is then used to match with the signature they provide on their mail ballots.

Supporters of the bill say it will make the registration process easier while being just as secure as current methods.

The bill is headed back to the House for a concurrence vote on some minor amendments. No major obstacles there, though. Big props to Representatives Ben Cannon and Jefferson Smith, who were the lead sponsors.

Comments

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Overall, I think that this could be a good thing. However, it has been very, very easy for illegal immigrants to obtain Oregon Drivers' Licenses in the past. I do hope that the bill includes some safeguards to prevent this type of fraud.

  • Henry Kraemer (unverified)
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    Big props too to Secretary of State Kate Brown, whose commitment to secure, hassle-free voting is helping make Oregon into a national leader in civic engagement.

    Also, props to the young volunteers and advocates of the Student Vote Coalition (Oregon Student Association, OSPIRG and the Bus Project) who pressed for this thing all session.

    The champagne (and sparkling cider, of course) is flowin' over here at the Bus.

  • conspiracyzach (unverified)
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    Enjoy revenge of the nerds with a superhighway of cyber fraud. Why are people so gullible to this "improvement". Answer: crap media coverage. I guess they are the same people who give spare change to actorvist scammers like OSPIRG. Hi tech voting methods are far worse than low tech.

  • D. Porter (unverified)
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    [Impersonation deleted. -editor.]

  • Brian Collins (unverified)
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    To address Zach's concerns, online voting registration is not the same as online voting (they will still vote via a paper ballot using Oregon's vote-by-mail system). The only difference is that there is no paper voter registration card - the card that contains your name, address, date of birth, political party affiliation, phone number, and affirmation that you are a U.S. citizen.

    This information is cross referenced with DMV info, which is why you have to have an Oregon Driver License to register to vote online. The signature image is taken from DMV files as well (which is then checked against the signature on your ballot when you vote). In some ways, this is a more secure system than the current voter registration system, because people with an ODL have to actually go to the DMV and present multiple forms of identification to get a license (and as people who have renewed recently know, the ID requirements are more comprehensive now than they used to be).

    Good job to everyone who worked on this issue! Now, if we could only clean up our initiative system...

  • Are Dubya (unverified)
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    I usually scoff at the fraud charges on stuff like this as footdragging, but it just so happens, I have a scenario...

    When I moved to Portland from SF, I gave my car away. When I got the registration renewal, via forwarded mail, I called and asked to have the info. updated, as I no longer owned the car. The woman took the new info., and said thanks, and I thought that was that.

    Two weeks later, I got an updated drivers license in the mail- a California license- with my new Portland address! That was 2001, and it doesn't expire until late this year. So, what would have kept me from registering in California, as an absentee, then registering in Oregon as a local?

    Posted by: Kurt Chapman | Jun 23, 2009 12:14:06 PM

    Overall, I think that this could be a good thing. However, it has been very, very easy for illegal immigrants to obtain Oregon Drivers' Licenses in the past. I do hope that the bill includes some safeguards to prevent this type of fraud.

    See, that's the kind of stupid logic you usually get, and why I hesitate to mention the above. Your premise is they have a license. You really think it's easier to register illegally online, as opposed to in person, with a drivers license?!? It cannot be questioned, by law, in person, yet most are not the most computer savvy. This ain't a way in. And like most Mexican immigrants (reading between your lines) give a shit about voting. I've found it very hard to turn out vote in Latino communities. Does that evaporate when they become legal? They don't vote, can't use the computer, but Kurt's concerned.

    You need to loosen that tight ass that gets threatened every time it sounds like anything is moving forward!

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Dubya, your scenario is scary. I have a real life scenario as well. Over 200 drivers' licenses "sold" by a now former supervisor of the DMV. Many of the illegal immigrants obtaining these licenses listed the same home address. And please put you race card away. In this instance many of those obtaining false Oregon drivers licenses were not Hispanic.

    The greatest number of illegal immigrants still are from the former Soviet Republics and Asia.

  • (Show?)

    yes, people will find a way to cheat. they always find a way to cheat. computers are not needed to commit voter fraud. in fact, in time, online methods of doing any business are likely to prove as secure as any as technologies develop. the antidote to cheating is not better technology, nor keeping bad guys offline; it's increasing participation in the entire political process.

    and online voter reg does that: more young people will make the commitment to vote, and that is the gateway drug to an addiction to progressive democratic activism.

    this is a very good thing, almost as good as the refusal to give 2556 (Keep the Guard home) a stinking work session was bad. yay Bus!! (and triple yay yay yay Henry Kraemer)

  • sharon fisher (unverified)
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    What about people who don't have driver's licenses?

  • gennab (unverified)
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    Diddo to what Todd said. Yahoo for increasing access to democracy! This bill provides a secure, easy way for folks to enter the political process.

  • Brian Collins (unverified)
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    Sharon,

    People who don't have an Oregon Driver License (or ID card) won't be able to register online. They will still be able to use the paper registration form, where they are required to provide the last four digits of their SSN.

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    People's paranoia is amazing. Voter fraud is a red herring for the losers.

    This is a stellar move by the state. The more we give access to our citizens, the more engaged they will be. A more engaged society breeds a better educated society, so on and so forth, etc...etc...

    So step off you bigoted illegal immigrant soapbox, or your nut job/Michelle Bachman/ACORN/voter fraud soapbox and chalk one up for democracy.

    Kudos to Reps. J. Smith and Cannon for making this possible. I can't wait to renew my registration in my pajamas, which is the same way I vote.

  • Chris (unverified)
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    I for one think this is great! Way to go to everyone who made this happen.

    In today's world we do all sorts of major transactions over the internet. I do almost all of my banking online. I feel perfectly safe moving money around on the web, the same logic tells me its safe to allow people to register to vote online.

    I think there might be a generational gap between younger peoples understanding of the technology involved and older peoples which causes some older people to be hesitant about online registration. This is a PR problem though not a problem with the actual legislation

    As for the talk about illegal aliens suddenly registering to vote because they have Oregon drivers licenses and can register online is absolutely absurd. Online registration still has to go through the same checks that paper registration goes through but its quicker, easier, and reaches a broader audience than the current form allows.

    Registering as many Oregonians as possible should be the goal, any technology or tool that allows for this should be embraced.

  • gennab (unverified)
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    Concurrence in the House by a vote of 45-11! This is a bipartisan bill that will put our state ahead of the civic engagement curve.

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    Great news, Kari, thanks for the info.

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    Great news for overseas registration drives.

  • Brian C. (unverified)
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    Question: Is it really that difficult to register to vote if one wishes to participate in the process? I'm no spring chicken, have resided in more than a few states and have never found it to be terribly challenging.

  • Katy (unverified)
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    This is so great. As someone who has registered voters before, I know how valuable it is to have multiple ways to engage people.

    Way to go Ben and Jeff and all the people who helped!

  • Rick Hickey (unverified)
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    As far as Illegals voting goes, State Leg. Kim Thatcher has proof that over 2,000 people voted in the last election locally but were not counted in the Federal tally. Why? Because they did not have proper ID and our sorry excuse for a S.O.S. allows those to vote here anyhow. And yes 2,000 votes DO make a difference in many races.

    If the Dr. Lic. was issued after Feb. 2008, it was not obtained by an illegal alien. Only problem? thousands WERE issued just prior to that date (KATU News had the reports)and do not expire for 8 (or many elections) years.

    Did you all forget about the "Largest ID fraud case in Oregon history" (as the Oregonian reported). Miguel Robleto and his Illegal alien friends/relatives sold over 80,000, yes Eighty Thousand, Dr. Lic.s to Illegals. Several of his accomplises will be Deported after time served.

    And the Union PCUN in Woodburn had meetings only for "members" on how to fill out a Ballot (as reported by the S/J) and Head Mafioso Ramirez has admitted that some of his workers could not get the new Lic. becasue they are here Illegally. Duh?

    When Tens of Millions flee their corrupt Nation(s) and are hand held on getting Fake/Stolen ID to get a job illegally, why oh why do any of you think they are not being told to change this Nation with their votes? Are you all that ignorant? And fear of Law? obviously none.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    This will be great when they make the initiative process go online since voting is now secure enough. Right, Ms Brown?

  • alcatross (unverified)
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    Kurt Chapman says: The greatest number of illegal immigrants still are from the former Soviet Republics and Asia.

    eh... greatest number of illegal immigrants where? In Oregon? In the US? In Europe? In the world?

    If Oregon or the US, please cite your source for this claim.

    Every source I've found indicates ~2/3 of illegal immigrants in US are from Mexico and Central America. I suppose it's possible for Oregon to be a statistical anomaly - but I've certainly never seen numbers indicating the majority of illegal immigrants in Oregon are from the former Soviet Republics and Asia.

  • Daniel Ronan (unverified)
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    As a campus activist here at the University of Oregon, I have registered a number of students to vote. First off, I would like to congratulate Oregon for a new great step towards higher access to voting.

    My one concern with this bill though is that it does not include people who are residents of other states that attend school in Oregon. This is a large portion of students at the U of O that will not be able to register to vote online.

    Those from out of state are equally important as those in state when it comes to engaging people in the voting process. Especially when these individuals pay higher tuition. Many would like to vote their pocketbook in the state they reside while they are in school, pushing for lower tuition.

    Can anyone tell me what is being done to account for these individuals?

  • Reynolds Worthington (unverified)
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    I can't wait to register through the series of tubes! With all the inevitable bad news this session, it's nice to have a bright spot or two. Way to go, team Cannon/Smith.

    Other states have done this and have had, if anything, fewer instances of fraud than with traditional registration systems. Not to mention that the last thing an undocumented worker wants to do is register with the government.

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    Re applying this reform to the initiative system, I have advocated that for years and have now been joined by well-known conservative editor Hasso Hering at the Democrat-Herald. See http://indparty.com/node/160

  • Jefferson Smith (unverified)
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    Bill was a testament to teamwork.

    And to be clear, online registration won't cover all the need. Campus and community based drives will still be needed. But as we've learned from rental movies and stamps, people like different outlets for stuff. Also, more work needs to be done for Oregon to lead the nation in secure hassle-free voting.

    More to say, but I'm thumbing. Kudos to Henry, Janice, Ben, Christy, Kate, Aimee, Genna, Quinn, Tom, Emily, Dave, Alex, Joe, Ian, and more. Like all lawmaking...this was a team thing...and what a great group of people.

  • Jake Oken-Berg (unverified)
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    Nice work Ben & Jefferson. And thank you to the other supporters in the House and Senate. This will also cut down on the use of paper -- another good thing.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "People who don't have an Oregon Driver License (or ID card) won't be able to register online."

    Isn't that discrimination on those who choose not to drive? Especially those who are disabled and can't drive at all? Didn't anyone think of that one?

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    Good ol' Rick Hickey - paranoid as ever.

    No one has yet explained what motivation an illegal immigrant would have to cast a vote and risk exposure and deportation.

    And no one has yet provided a single example of someone voting fraudulently in Oregon that wasn't caught and prosecuted.

  • (Show?)

    This is excellent! Thanks to all who worked on this.

  • Disclaimer (unverified)
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    Posted by: Eric Parker | Jun 24, 2009 7:06:19 AM

    "People who don't have an Oregon Driver License (or ID card) won't be able to register online."

    Isn't that discrimination on those who choose not to drive? Especially those who are disabled and can't drive at all? Didn't anyone think of that one?

    Eric, did you even read what you were responding to?

    You need a drivers license OR AN OREGON ID CARD. You do not need to drive to get an ID card. Yes, we do require ID to register to vote. That's a requirement now.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    Research has shown that the vote fraud to worry about isn't by the voters, it's by election officials and others affecting the counting and reporting.

    So while I agree that the GOP's phony concern about vote fraud is mostly partisan hackery (given their track record of stealing elections and disfranchising voters wholesale), one must still point out, yes, undetected crimes are undetected:

    "And no one has yet provided a single example of someone voting fraudulently in Oregon that wasn't caught and prosecuted."

    (That this is true would not mean that it's not occurring, only that they were good at it.)

  • Kallen (unverified)
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    Thanks to the Bus Project and student groups on this bill. Oregon AFSCME Council 75 also testified and worked on this bill. Greater access to voter participation is always a good thing.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    Yes, greater access to voter participation is always a good thing. So the question is when do we get same-day registration? The 30-day cutoff is the most powerful voting deterrent there is, not the need to register in person. THere are going to be plenty of young people barred from voting next election, online registration or no, because we systematically bar registrants from voting if they sign up just when the races heat up and get interesting.

    The other question is why we don't simply move to automatic, universal registration?

    I don't have to register to pay taxes, why do I have to register to vote?

  • Henry Kraemer (unverified)
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    Totally forgot to mention the good work done by Janice Thompson of Democracy Reform Oregon. http://democracyreform.org/

    It's a testament to how forward-thinking coalitions can really move some serious hill here in Oregon.

  • David from Eugene (unverified)
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    Our voting system not only needs to be fraud free, it also needs to be perceived as fraud free by the voters. As long as reasonable sounding issues, valid or not, with voting, ballot counting and Voter Registration can be raised the results of an election will be subject to dispute. This means that any on-line voter registration system not only needs to be secure but the public also needs to believe it is. And the basic reality that the recipient of an electronic submission does not really know who is at the keyboard sending it raises questions regarding the system’s security. By the way this flaw also exists with registration by mail.

  • progvoice (unverified)
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    Disclaimer wrote:

    "You need a drivers license OR AN OREGON ID CARD. You do not need to drive to get an ID card. Yes, we do require ID to register to vote. That's a requirement now."

    Not true. You do not need proof of identity to register to vote in state-wide elections. Requirement of proof of identity is required for voting in Presidential elections.

    Wouldn't online signing of initiative or referendum petitions be the next logical use of this system? Allows the voter to review the petition in the comfort of their home and verifies that they are registered to sign.

    What are the pitfalls of using this for petition signing?

  • David from Eugene (unverified)
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    George

    “I don't have to register to pay taxes, why do I have to register to vote?” Because there is little advantage to pay taxes more then once, while there is an advantage in voting more then once.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Kari:

    Online voter reg is a great thing for reaching out to young people

    Bob T:

    I don't know, Kari. Many of them won't know how to do this unless the input device is a joystick.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Young People Do Care! (unverified)
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    (We don't really use joysticks any more. That was the Atari era.)

    Meanwhile, this is a good place to remind folks not only of this bill, but also of all the work that went into helping Oregon realize the nation's biggest growth in youth vote share between 2004 and 2008.

    Young people care! Let's keep it going!

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Young People Do Care!:

    (We don't really use joysticks any more. That was the Atari era.)

    Bob T:

    Of course joysticks are used -- check gaming hardware.
    Heck, I use one every time I'm flying a P-51, Me109 or Zero. The young people who are wedded to joysticks are the ones who won't be able to register on-line.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

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    A reminder to everyone worried about this leading to fraud: we vote by mail. And you can already register by mail. I've never shown up in person in order to register or vote, let alone shown someone an ID.

    So the question is when do we get same-day registration?

    Agreed.

    “I don't have to register to pay taxes, why do I have to register to vote?” Because there is little advantage to pay taxes more then once, while there is an advantage in voting more then once.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with automatic registration. Automatic registration would mean that that the state would register you to vote when you turn 18. It wouldn't enable you to vote twice any more than the current system does.

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    Nice op ed in the WaPo by Trevor Potter and Bob Bauer in favor of online / electronic registration. Trevor and Bob are respectively McCain's and Obama's chief lawyers, so I think this deserves a read by anyone interested in this issue:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062403095.html

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    David from Eugene: Again with the fantasy that people are lining up to complete and sign a ballot that will be checked for signature validity against a signature on file, that will automatically be detected if there's a duplicate, etc.

    Despite your paranoid fantasies, retail vote fraud is less common that getting hit by meteor chips. It's simply too easy to catch, and not very rewarding, actually. Unless you have enough votes to tip the balance in a race, you are likely wasting your time on a very high-risk venture.

    <h2>The frauds that we need to worry about are by elected officials (see, campaign contributions, gerrymandering) and elections officials (see, black box voting, voter purges, etc.) not by voters. The history is that we've got an Orwellian process set up where we scrutinize the voters -- who have very little incentive to cheat and lots of opportunity to get caught if they try -- closely, while we turn a blind eye to the criminality by electeds, who have lots of opportunity and incentive to cheat.</h2>

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