Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was thrilled when she signed the automatic motor voter registration bill on March 16, 2015.
But does it have a flaw that could enable fraud?
Under Oregon’s Motor Voter law, when an eligible unregistered voter (over 17 years old, an Oregon resident and a US citizen) visits the DMV to apply for, renew, or replace an Oregon drivers’ license, ID card, or permit, that person receives a mailing from the Oregon Elections Division explaining their options for registering to vote.
Recipients of the mailing can:
- Do nothing. In that case, the person is registered to vote as a nonaffiliated voter (not a member of a political party).
- Choose a political party by returning the card. Joining a political party will allow the person to vote in its primary elections.
- Use the card to opt-out and decline to register to vote.
On Oct. 25, 2016, Willamette Week ran a story that reviewed the new voter numbers. It noted that since the start of 2016, the Motor Voter law has added 247,501 newly registered voters. The story also noted that 9,292 DMV-generated voter registration cards could not be delivered.
Who are those 9,292 people? Could that mean that 9,292 people were fraudulently registered to vote?
According to Dr. Russell Terry, a Voter Engagement Advocate in the Oregon Secretary of State’s Elections Division, cards returned to the Elections Division as undeliverable can be because:
- the address does not adhere to the USPS standardization for mailing addresses
- the individual provided DMV with an address before updating their address through USPS
- the individual is not identified as being at the address to which the mail is delivered
You might expect that a few addresses would be invalid if it took a while to send out the cards and people moved in the interim. But Terry said the transfer of data from the DMV to the Elections Division “…is only a few days, before or right around the time DMV would be mailing a driver’s license to that address as well.”
Is there a way, then, to check whether the people whose cards were undeliverable are legitimate voters?
I asked if I could access a list of all the names and addresses on those cards so a sampling could be checked.
Nope. “The Oregon Vehicle Code prohibits the disclosure of those individuals and their information,” Terry said.
So were up to 9,292 registered Oregon voters not eligible voters on Nov. 8? Who knows?
Given that situation, should the names of the 9,292 people whose cards were undeliverable be struck from the voter rolls?