Former Oregon official touts automatic voter registration to Massachusetts lawmakers

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP)-Ten states have passed automatic voter registration laws, including Oregon. After implementing the system, Oregon to added over 230,000 new voters to the rolls within six months and had more than 97,000 new voters participate in the 2016 election. Massachusetts advocates hope to implement the system here and give more people a voice in government.

Under Oregon’s “Motor Voter Law,” people are registered to vote through the state’s department of motor vehicles. It also updates their information, including addresses.

“We’ve turned the curve going up and a higher percentage of those who are qualified now are actually on the rolls and getting ballots,”  former Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins told 22News. Her office was charged with implementing the system.

If passed, Massachusetts would adopt a similar system, but would also take information from MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program.

Supporters believe the move would make voter lists more accurate and get more voters involved in the process.

Supporters say the legislation needs to pass this session, as they hope to implement automatic voter registration in time for the 2020 presidential election.

“It would take a while to do this properly,” Common Cause Massachusetts Executive Director Pam Wilmot said. “It’s important that we have some safeguards in place and that we give as many people an opportunity to participate in our government as possible.”

The bill has received favorable report from the Election Laws Committee, but still has a few more steps to go in the process. The bill has not yet come up for a vote before the full legislature.

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