OR & CA Adopt Automatic Voter Registration Via Drivers License

Thousands of new voters being added through application or renewal of a driver’s license.

The state of Oregon enacted a new voter registration law effective January 1, 2016 that automatically registers people to vote when they renew or apply for a driver’s license.

The newly registered voter will receive a postcard in the mail, informing them they are now registered as an unaffiliated voter.   They have 3 options:

  • Do nothing and voter registration remains as unaffiliated.
  • Return the card and choose a political party.
  • Return the card to opt-out and decline to register.

The Oregon website states, “Under the new system, the Elections Division will only send out OMV Cards to people who have provided documentation that they are U.S. citizens. ​​“

According to a recent report from the Associated Press, over 4,300 new voters were registered in Oregon within the first six days of this year through automatic registration.   Typically, about 2,000 people per month register to vote in Oregon.

In October 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed a similar bill for California, but the state is still working on the software and regulations for its program.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia now allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, which are different in appearance from those issued to citizens. In California, noncitizen licenses carry the words “Federal Limits Apply” and “not valid for official federal purposes,” according to DriveCA.org.

President Barack Obama praised Oregon and California and urged more states to follow their lead.   “The job of our democracy is to make it easier, not make it harder for our citizens to be able to vote,” Obama told Democratic governors in a meeting at the White House on Feb. 19.

If California automatically registers people as unaffiliated voters, this could ultimately add millions of new voters to the Democratic ticket in the primaries, as unaffiliated voters in California are ONLY allowed to vote in primaries for three parties – the American Independent Party, the Democratic Party and the Libertarian Party.   

Unaffiliated voters cannot vote in the GOP primary in California.  

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