Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Oregon Could Be First to Enact Automatic Voter Registration

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, April 10 2013

Oregon could become the first state to implement automatic voter registration, Governing recently reported.

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, currently in her second term, introduced a proposal in the state House last month that would allow Oregon to automatically register potential new voters when they apply for a driver's license.

Under the proposed legislation, designated voter registration agencies would transmit the age, residency and citizenship data as well as the digital signature of each person qualified to vote to the Secretary of State's office, which would then register those not yet on the voter rolls.

The Secretary of State would then notify every person registered in this way with information about selecting a party affiliation or cancelling the registration.

According to the article, the House Rules Committee has already held one hearing on the proposal and another one will likely follow in the coming weeks.

The proposal would differ from the practice in some states where voters can opt in to voter registration themselves when they apply for a driver's license, Governing explains. Under the proposal, around 500,000 eligible Oregon voters already in the DMV database would be automatically registered beginning in January 2014.

The new system would complement Oregon's existing policies of a vote-by-mail policy, existing since 1998, and online voter registration. According to Governing, that has led Oregon to have one of the highest turnout rates in the country. "But Brown says while the system means high turnout, it doesn't mean high registration rates. About a quarter of eligible Oregon voters weren't registered as of Election Day 2012," Governing reported.

Brown tells Governing that she was inspired to propose the legislation after working with Rock the Vote last fall. In her previous role as legislator herself, she spearheaded legislation creating a searchable online database of campaign contributions, according to her biography.

Greg Leo, executive director of the Oregon Republican Party, criticized the proposal, as Governing reported. "What we really need is an American electorate that takes the time to study the issues...We make it so easy for people to participate that I worry they won't take the time to be an informed voter and to really study the issues."

Brown counters, according to Governing, that with the new policy, advocacy organizations that currently spend money and time on voter registration campaigns could instead focus on voter education, leading to a more informed electorate.

The Oregonian also reported on other criticisms raised by Republicans, from philosophical objections to registering people without asking, concerns about government agencies sharing data with each other and worries about government intrusion.

Governing notes that since 2011, 13 states have considered automatic voter registration legislation. Florida, Hawaii and Texas legislators are also currently considering such legislation. In 2009, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed automatic voter registration legislation passed by the state legislature.

Rob Richie, executive director of Fair Vote, emphasized to Governing that automatic registration is the norm internationally, especially with countries that have national ID cards. He also suggested that Oregon's system could help improve the accuracy and integrity of voter rolls.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

More