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Grade TL;DR

While we applaud Oregon’s hard work in making a number of significant positive pro-voter changes over the last two years, the legislature failed to take action on two critical opportunities to further expand voting rights during the last two sessions — expanding their AVR system to Medicaid offices and ending felon disenfranchisement in the state — which is why it received a B+ on this year’s progress report.

Looking Back

Where Oregon Started in 2020

  • Automatic Voter Registration: Back-End
  • Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
  • Same-Day Registration: No
  • Restoration of Rights: Prison Disenfranchisement
  • Vote by Mail: Vote by Mail
  • Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
  • Early Voting Opportunities: In-Person Absentee
  • ID Requirements: No Document Required

Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Oregon as of 2020, we considered the state a top tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2021-22 activity against other top tier states.

How Our Tier Compares:

  • COVI (2020): 1st
  • EPI Score (2020): 28th
  • CLC State Scorecard (2022): 8/10
  • MAP Democracy Rating (2022): HIGH

2021: Two Years Ago

Legislative Action

The Oregon Legislature has long been a proponent of pro-voter policies, and it continued to make incremental improvements to elections during the 2021 session.

  • H 3291 requires clerks to accept all ballots that have a date or indicator that they were mailed by Election Day if they are received within seven days after the election, and it allows clerks to begin counting ballots when received.
  • H 3021 increases voter language accessibility by requiring the secretary of state and county clerks to provide voter pamphlets in the five most common non-English languages in the area. It also establishes a Translation Advisory Council to complete the translation for the pamphlets.
  • H 2681 requires county clerks to send “inactive” voters notice that their registration is inactive 60-70 days before a primary or general election. The notice must include instructions on how the voter can reactivate their registration. Clerks are also prohibited from moving a voter’s registration to inactive status for failing to vote or update their registration.
  • However, the Legislature failed to act on H 2499, a bipartisan bill that would have expanded automatic voter registration (AVR) beyond the DMV to Medicaid and other agencies designated by the governor and that would have used state income tax records to update voter registration records.

2022: This Past Year

Legislative Action

During the 2022 session, the Legislature passed important updates to protect election workers from harassment and increase access to the online voter registration system.

  • H 4133 revises the existing online voter registration system to allow applicants to register using the last four digits of their Social Security number if they do not have an Oregon driver’s license or state ID number. The revised system also allows voters to directly submit an electronic image of their signature when registering with their Social Security number and it allows the secretary of state to include an API in the registration system to allow third-party organizations to directly submit voter registrations electronically to the state for processing.
  • H 4144 allows election workers to protect their voter registration address from public disclosure and increases criminal penalties for individuals that harass election workers for doing their jobs.
  • However, the Legislature failed to act on H 4147, a bill that would end felon disenfranchisement in Oregon by eliminating the rule that people convicted of a felony lose the right to vote until they complete a period of imprisonment. With the passage of this bill, Oregon would have joined Maine, Vermont, and the District of Columbia as jurisdictions that do not disenfranchise people on the basis of felony convictions.