Beyond resistance: Expanding access to the ballot

August 18, 2017

Dear Friends,

It is the 21st day of my email series, “Beyond Resistance: The things we should do to make us safer, healthier, and more economically secure.” Today’s topic: expanding access to the ballot.

The individual right to vote, the cornerstone of our representative democracy, is under threat across America. In 2016, 14 states had new restrictions on voting in place for the first time in a presidential election – disproportionately targeting minority and low-income voters.

I’m working to remove barriers to voting by promoting Oregon’s successful automatic voter registration and vote-by-mail systems at the national level. Senator Ron Wyden and I introduced the Vote By Mail Act to expand automatic voter registration and vote by mail to all. I also joined Rep. David Cicilline to introduce the Automatic Voter Registration Act.     

Automatic voter registration and vote-by-mail are commonsense solutions that are highly effective, reduce opportunities for cheating and mistakes, cost less, and provide more reliable voting results. Oregon voters are given almost four hundred hours to examine the issues and return the ballot either by mail or in person, leading to some of the highest voter turnout in the nation. With the implementation of automatic voter registration in Oregon in 2016, voter turnout among eligible young (age 18-29) voters increased by 7 percent since the 2012 election – evidence that this reform is useful in increasing access to the ballot for these highly mobile new voters.

More and more states are following Oregon’s lead. It’s time to expand these programs nationally. We must protect voting as a fundamental right – and any attempts to undermine it must be stopped.

I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. You can connect with me here.

Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress