Just because it's been a confusing headache in the past doesn't mean it has to stay that way. At least according to visionary Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
Low voter turnout is a big problem.
Across the U.S., only 36.4% of eligible people voted in 2014.
That is the lowest number seen since WWII.
Some people are cool with that. They like it when only super-engaged people vote because it cements their interests instead of what's good for the broader public.
But those who want to see democracy work for ALL of us recognize that the key to a truly representative government is getting as many citizens as possible to participate.
Being able to vote is KIND OF A BIG DEAL!
Back in 2013, Oregon's then-secretary of state, Kate Brown, introduced what some deemed a radical bill to make registering to vote super easy. Here's the gist of it:
Instead of having to register yourself BEFORE the day of voting — thereby reducing the likelihood of people doing it — you're just automatically registered to vote in Oregon when you get a driver's license or ID.
So now in Oregon, instead of having to schlep to a registration site to opt in, you're automatically in the in-club. Which sure beats waiting in line!
Not to mention the unreasonable burden separate registration puts on the elderly and the disabled.
Such a simple reversal changes the game.
Fast-forward two years. That secretary of state is now Oregon's GOVERNOR. The bill passed the House and Senate and came across her desk for her official sign-off. Which, of course, she DID.
Oregon Gov Kate Brown signs automatic voter registration law that does something amazing: it makes democracy... easy. pic.twitter.com/Of6WnepMQX
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) March 16, 2015
Oregon is now the first state to implement Awesome Automatic Voter Registration (just a branding suggestion I have), but Minnesota almost did in 2009 before then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed it. Let's all chant a little chant that Minnesota revisits it now, and that this begins a wave of automatic registration in every state.