August 6, 2009
Secretary of State Kate Brown
Statement on Signing of Online Voter Registration
Salem - Thank you Gov. Kulongoski for those kind words, and thank you to Representatives Ben Cannon and Jefferson Smith who first introduced this bill, as well as all the advocates in the room who helped secure its passage.
The real winners today are the Oregonians who face barriers in their efforts to register. As most of you know, Oregon is a high turnout state, due in large part to vote-by-mail, but where we fall behind is in registration rates.
The opportunity to register online will make the process simpler for those who are housebound, for our young people who spend time in the online world, and for our Oregon military personnel. There are now thousands of them overseas.
This bill means we have taken a big step forward in making registration simpler, safer and more secure for eligible voters. Let me add that online registration doesn’t mean we have changed our standards for preventing fraud. We will deal swiftly with anyone who tries to abuse the system. Remember the words “class C felony.”
And speaking of fraud, as the Governor mentioned, preventing fraud in our initiative system was my top priority this session. I would like to recognize the hard work of the Legislature on these issues. Legislators spent a lot of time and energy crafting House Bill 2005, the initiative reform package. That work made the bill stronger, garnered bi-partisan support and will ensure that initiatives Oregonians vote on are there legally and legitimately.
And their hard work helped with other advances too. We’ll soon have fax voting, sponsored by Gene Whisnant, which will allow Oregonians kept away from the state to cast their ballots by fax. And the counties will soon be able to start scanning ballots a week before Election Day. This will make sure the larger counties aren’t overwhelmed on Election Day and will mean the more timely release of returns.
I also want to recognize the contributions of our county clerks and elections directors around the state. They are constantly on the lookout for solutions that may not cost a lot of money but that help improve service and make the system more efficient. They are the backbone of what’s been recognized as one of the nation’s strongest election systems.
And finally, I’d like to thank the governor for his support and his interest in these issues. We can accomplish so much when we stand together. I’m confident we will see more innovation, more education, and more outreach as we work together in the years to come to make sure Oregon truly has a world-class infrastructure for democracy.
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