Bus News: register to vote online

Why We Need #FreshStartOregon: Phil’s story

fso story phil


On Tuesday, we heard from Tim, a farmer in The Dalles, who explained why the Fresh Start Oregon campaign would dramatically improve the lives of him and his family. Today, we hear from Phil Studenberg, a lawyer in Klamath Falls, who has worked tirelessly in support of individuals with convictions for nonviolent marijuana charges. He supports the #FreshStartOregon campaign, and his story is as follows:

My name is Phil, and I’ve been an attorney for 37 years, most of them doing criminal defense work.  I have repeatedly seen the destructive impact of a felony conviction on good people.  In the case of marijuana offenses, many of the defendants are young people going to college and pursuing the American Dream.  Loss of educational benefits and job opportunities to a marijuana conviction criminalizes people who would otherwise not be in the criminal world, and represents a tremendous loss of human potential for these young, smart people.  It is not only the loss to the defendants, but a profound loss to our society at large, when these talented people and their families face unnecessary barriers to economic stability. It is time to stop prosecuting them and clean up the criminal records of these victims of a senseless War on Drugs!

We’ll have news in the upcoming days about the next steps that you can take to help us pass this monumental, first-of-its-kind legislation here in Oregon; we’ll be hosting phonebanks in our Portland office in the near future. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, we need to continue to collect signatures to demonstrate to our legislators that this is an urgently-needed, immediate priority for an Oregonian electorate that is ready to move on from the failed War on Drugs. If you haven’t already signed our petition, please do so:

take action now

…and if you’d like to help collect signatures amongst your peers, classmates, coworkers, and family, send an email to aaron@busproject.org. We’ll get you set up.

Why we need #freshstartoregon: Tim’s story


In less than two weeks, the Bus Project has collected 1300 signatures, over 60 volunteers, and dozens of stories from everyday Oregonians who would benefit from a more pragmatic, moral, sensible, cost-effective drug policy in our state.

You’re speaking up, and Salem is listening. Here’s but one of the many stories we’ve heard in the past two weeks, from a farmer in The Dalles.

My name is Tim McClure, I’m a 57 year old organic farmer in The Dalles, Oregon.

In 1999, my wife’s best friend got breast cancer. She found that marijuana helped her keep an appetite, and otherwise improve her quality of life. During that time,  I had a man working for me on the ranch who had grown marijuana in the past and offered to help us. While the medical marijuana helped our friend deal with her illness, a trespassing hunter spotted the plants and called the sheriff. After inviting the sheriff to visit my ranch (I figured “a few pot plants, no big deal”) I learned the grow was bigger than I had been told. The sheriff’s office attempted to confiscate the ranch and I was charged with manufacture of a controlled substance. The only way to get the ranch off of the table was to accept a plea deal, even though I was completely uninvolved with the grow. I agreed to the plea-deal under the impression that after paying my fine and my community service, I could petition the court to have my felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. I was unaware, however, that the charge now classified me as a Class-C felon, which is non-reduceable, and non-expungeable. I only recently found out that my Class C felony is the same classification given to murder, rape, and violent crimes.

It’s been over 15 years since I signed the plea deal. I have written the District Attorney’s office countless times to petition the court to reduce my conviction. I cooperated fully, paid my fine in full, did my community service with a smile, only to find out that I was a felon for life. My small business failed, and I had to close it down. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs that I was abundantly qualified for, and never got a single interview. I eventually inherited my fathers ranch, and am now an organic farmer. I raise free-range purebred Hereford cattle, and was until recently the president of The Dalles Farmers Market. I’m a volunteer youth coach. I coach basketball and the high jump at The Dalles Middle School. I’m an active volunteer in my community. I have an 8 year old son and a 14 year old daughter. I have a dark secret that I haven’t told my children. I’m a convicted felon with no avenue for rehabilitation. I’ve never had a speeding ticket, but I have one count of manufacture of a controlled substance on my record. The conviction has cost my family hundreds of thousands of dollars; I can’t volunteer for the local search and rescue team. I can’t hunt or possess a firearm, leaving me powerless to the coyotes killing the chickens on my farm. I have always believed that I deserve the opportunity to fully rehabilitate myself. Please help me and my family by supporting the Fresh Start Oregon campaign.

Clearly, Oregon can do better than this. Marijuana charges shouldn’t ruin lives.

If you haven’t already signed the petition, do so now:

take action now

…and direct your friends to www.busproject.org/freshstartoregon to learn how you can share your own stories, volunteer, and help pass this common sense legislation.

Introducing the #freshstartoregon campaign.

Welcome Amy Kessler to the Bus Project!

We’ve certainly been busy over here at the Bus Project in the past few weeks; providing testimony for the Pay It Forward bill, speaking on Thank You Democracy on XRAY.fm, and, oh yeah, helping pass #newmotorvoter, the most progressive voting rights legislation in the country, covered in tons of national media since the signing Monday.

In all this hubbub, though, we’ve got more great news to share: The Bus Project has welcomed Amy Kessler onto our staff to lead our PolitiCorps program!

After honing youth leadership development skills at our partner organizations Forward Montana and New Era Colorado, Amy’s been given the keys to our PolitiCorps program, now in it’s eleventh year.

Read more about Amy on our staff page, and feel free to send her a welcome note. Welcome Aboard, Amy!

2014 PolitiCorps class, lookin' snazzy.
2014 PolitiCorps class, lookin’ snazzy.

What’s all this about PolitiCorps?

Politicorps is Oregon’s premiere youth development summer fellowship that has graduated over 200 fellows to prepare the next generation of Oregonians for careers in political advocacy and civic engagement. Our program is an intensive, paid, ten week political organizing and leadership development bootcamp (whew, what a mouthful). If you’re a college junior, senior or recent graduate (aged 20-24) dedicated to public interest and political process, you are eligible for the Fellowship.

PolitiCorps focuses on training young leaders who are ready to commit themselves full time to working in public service. PolitiCorps alumni are busy changing the world all around the city, state, and country; from APANO to Causa, CIO to City Club, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office all the way to the White House, PolitiCorps Alumni have been there, done that.

How can I learn more?

Why, we’re glad you asked.

If you work with Portland-area young folks and would like us to come talk to you and your students about PolitiCorps, send us a message; we’d be honored to make a class visit.

If you’d like to nominate someone for the program, check out our nomination form.

If you yourself would like to apply for the program, the applications are rollin'; we’d love to look over your materials and schedule an interview.

Our Application form is available HERE.

Got any other questions? Be sure to check out our FAQ page, or send Amy a friendly email.

What are you waiting for? Go get those applications in!

With much love,

Amy, Aaron, Nathan, Alex and the rest of Team Bus!

#newmotorvoter signed into law by Governor Kate Brown.



We’ve been building towards today’s historic signing for years!

In an age when voter suppression laws are far too common, we celebrate this awesome moment for Oregon and democracy!! Thank you for helping to make this win possible.

Oregon is now the first state in the nation to modernize its voter registration mechanisms, which will enfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible Oregonians to vote who can’t currently. We wrote a little bit last week about why this is such a big deal here.

And the Bus is uniquely positioned to educate, engage, and turn out the hundreds of thousands of new voters that will be added to the rolls by 2016.

It’s a good time to get on the Bus!

-Nathan, Aaron, Amy, Alex and the rest of Team Bus

The New Motor Voter allows you to register to vote or update voter registration information after interacting with DMV without additional steps. It requires the DMV to routinely transfer information to the Secretary of State containing: name, age, residence, citizenship information, and electronic signature of eligible voters.

New Motor Voter will make voter registration simple and convenient for busy Oregon families, seniors and students by using data DMV currently collects to register eligible voters and update address information for already registered voters.

Eligible voters will then be notified (by Secretary of State or County Clerks) of the opportunity to be registered to vote, the ability to opt out of becoming registered, and how to become a member of a political party if they so choose. Click here to read more.


So, this is pretty cool.

NMV house (3) With 17 yes votes in the Senate, House Bill 2177 passed into law this sunny Thursday morning in the Capitol. #newmotorvoter is arguably the biggest piece of voting rights legislation in decades, helping eliminate a crucial barrier to participation in democracy for literally hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. After years of leading the country on innovative election practices such as our vaunted Vote By Mail, seventeen year old pre-registration and online voter registration, today’s Senate vote continues to demonstrate that Oregon is a pioneering state proactively addressing the need to make democracy, voting and elections more accessible to larger numbers of Oregonians. From rural Oregonians who live far away from traditional voter registration drives in urban areas, to college students and single-parent families who move frequently and have to unnecessarily register with each new address, to the 29,000 Oregonians that register to vote after the deadline only to find out they are unable to get a ballot for an upcoming election, House Bill 2177 provides an innovative new opportunity to ensure that just about every eligible Oregonian citizen will have a ballot in their hand for the upcoming election. Considering the significant attacks to voting rights in states across the country in recent years, particularly in low-income and communities of color, this is an unprecedented victory for anyone who believes that including more folks in our democracy is a good thing.

As an organization that has registered over 90,000 voters over our years and has helped champion many of Oregon’s recent successes at voter engagement, we’re downright thrilled. Bus Project Interim Executive Director Nathan Howard voiced his support for the bill stating, “We at the Bus Project are thrilled to see this important piece of legislation heading to the Governor’s desk.” He continues, “Our goal with this legislation was to take us one step closer to having all eligible voters voices heard, and we believe that getting a ballot in their hands is the first step.”

Of course, our successes at policies for better democracy, registering 90,000+ voters, and graduating 200+ PolitiCorps fellows frankly wouldn’t be possible without your endless volunteer hours and financial support. Your donations of time, energy and money to the Bus Project have helped us build momentum for today’s victory for years, and your continued support will help us as we continue to educate young voters, pass innovative policies and build new leaders for a 21st Century Oregon.

So, you know, thanks.

Senate to vote on #NewMotorVoter this Thursday!! — Come be a part of history


This is it, folks!

joe_biden-bfd[1]This Thursday, March 5th, the Bus Project will be driving down to Salem to watch the Oregon Senate vote on our historic and groundbreaking enfranchisement bill, House Bill 2177, colloquially known as #newmotorvoter.

We’ve been working on this bill for years, and it’s one short vote away from becoming law and eliminating a significant barrier for many Oregonians to participate in our local democracy.

As Vice President Joe Biden would say, this is, um, a big deal.

We know it’s short notice, but we’re extending the invitation for you to come down with the Bus Project this Thursday, March 5th and witness history. We’ll be taking our beloved BUS down to Salem and leaving from our headquarters (333 SE 2nd, Portland OR, 97214) at 8am, and you are invited for a free ride, some coffee, doughnuts, and a chance to watch a vote on the most innovative current piece of voting rights legislation in the country.

The vote begins at 10:30am, and we’re hoping to be back in Portland by 2:00pm in the afternoon at the absolute latest.

If you can’t make the trip with us, can you please share this blog post on social media to encourage your friends to come along? We need more people to sign our petition so we can ensure our State Senators know how excited we are to be the first state in the country to implement such measures to make our elections more efficient, cost-effective, and accessible to a larger section of Oregonians.

We want to let everybody know that Oregon is a state that supports removing every unnecessary barrier to participating in our local democracy, and that it’s excellent news that we have an opportunity to ensure that every eligible Oregonian citizen will have a ballot in their hand for the next election.

You don’t have to RSVP, but we’d love it if you do! Send an email to aaron@busproject.org or call us at 503-233-3018 if you are interested.


8:00am, Thursday, March 5th, meet us at Bus HQ (333 SE 2nd, Portland OR, 97214). If you’re already in Salem, join us in the Capitol Building for the vote at 10:30am.

We’ll be back to Portland by 2:00pm at the latest.


Next Week is going to be *historic.* Want to join us? #newmotorvoter


The Bus Project went down to Salem to watch #newmotorvoter clear the House. Come join us as we go down and watch the Senate vote next week! Photo Credit Reuben Schafir.

***UPDATE, FEB 27*** We’re still patiently waiting to find the exact date of the vote, but at this point we can confirm that it will not be this next Monday. We’ll let you know as soon as we know; feel free to email Aaron at aaron@busproject.org to learn how to get involved!

What started as a great idea thrown around by voting rights activists, elected officials and the Bus Project over five years ago is now days away from one final vote to pass into law. Oregon’s House Bill 2177, affectionately known as #newmotorvoter, will help ensure that every eligible Oregonian will have a ballot in hand for the next upcoming election, and the bill will be voted on by the Oregon Senate NEXT WEEK, as early as Monday, March 2nd.

Obviously, we’re tickled silly that this bill is so close to passing, so we’re headed down to Salem to watch the vote in person.

Wanna join?

Contact Aaron at aaron@busproject.org or call the Bus office at 503 233 3018 if you’re interested in coming down, and we’ll contact you as soon as we know the date of the vote. Bring your friends! We’re happy to write pink slips for any students who need paperwork to get out of school for the day to witness history.

Can’t get out of school/work next week? Well, it’s not too late to sign our petition to make sure that your State Senator knows that this bill means a lot to you. We’d love it if you could use the #newmotorvoter hashtag on twitter, facebook, and anywhere else you use social media, and we’d *love* it if you helped spread the good word about #newmotorvoter on our own social media:

#NEWMOTORVOTER Passes the House!

NMV house vote

Well, we’re absolutely thrilled to announce that #newmotorvoter just passed through Oregon’s House of Representatives. House Bill 2177 is now headed to the Oregon Senate; there could be a vote as early as next week. Stay tuned; we’ll be headed down to Salem again to watch the final vote and be certain that every eligible Oregonian will have a ballot in hand for the next election.

Big News for the Bus in 2015!


Thanks for coming out to our State of the Union Party!

We had a great time playing Bingo, meeting friends old and new, and providing a brief update about the exciting events and upcoming legislation that the Bus Project will tackle in 2015. The watch party was profiled both on OPB News and on GoLocalPDX; check it out!

Special shout out to The Waypost for being incredible hosts.


Introducing Nathan Howard, our new Interim Executive Director!

As we announced at the State of the Union Party, this marks the first week of Nathan Howard’s tenure as Interim Executive Director of the Bus Project. Prior to hopping in the driver’s seat of the Bus, Nathan worked in the Oregon State Senate.  Most recently, he worked as a Finance Director during the 2014 election cycle; before that as the Chief of Staff to Senator Mark Hass, with a focus on ​education, ​environmental, and ​finance & ​revenue ​public ​policy.

Nathan is a native Oregonian, born and raised in Portland just off 82nd Ave., and a University of Oregon graduate, where he received his BA in City Planning, Public Policy and Management. Nathan sees Oregon as a trailblazer in the movement to increase civic engagement, especially among young people, and move towards shared and sustained prosperity.

When he isn’t working on moving the great state of Oregon forward, Nathan enjoys working on bicycles, playing Settlers of Catan, and hiking around the Northwest. Feel free to drop Nathan a line at nathan@busproject.org.


Motor Voter legislation, up and running!

The Bus Project is excited to announce that our efforts to strengthen Oregon’s democracy, already one of the most free, fair, and accessible​ in the country, ​are ​currently ​underway. House Bill 2177, introduced by the Secretary of State Kate Brown, would help register hundreds of thousands of voters across the state by using the Department of Motor Vehicles’ records to make sure that every eligible Oregonian has a ballot in hand before the upcoming election.

This is a MONUMENTAL bill that will have it’s first hearing in the Rules Subcommittee meeting next MONDAY, February 2nd, at 3pm. Email aaron@busproject.org to learn how you can get involved with making sure we pass this landmark legislation, and be sure to follow along as we livetweet the hearing on twitter (@busproject) and SHARE our exciting updates about the bill on Facebook.


PolitiCorps 2015, ARE YOU PREPARED?

Know any college-aged folks who would be a great fit for our summer bootcamp program that helps build the next generation of leaders in the state of Oregon? Click HERE to nominate a great candidate, and click HERE to apply yourself.

NEXT EVENT: Oregon Climate Video Launch Party, 2/23!

Climate–a statewide grassroots campaign for fair & effective climate policy–and the Bus Project on Monday, February 23 for the official LAUNCH of our long-awaited campaign video!

Invite your friends and come out to meet incredible people, watch an inspiring film, hear special guest speakers, and learn how we’re going to make history this year.

Winter is going extinct. Pipelines menace our forests and farms. Oceans are emptying. We all need protection from fossil fuel chaos and we all know a new energy economy is possible. The time for bold action is now. Let’s enact a solution that is effective, equitable, and cuts through partisan gridlock. Let’s put a price on carbon.

The states are the laboratory for democracy, and no state has more power to model real climate action than Oregon. Let’s put science and justice above politics, and lead the way!

Save the Date for FEBRUARY 23 at the Waypost; RSVP on facebook HERE. We can count on seeing you at the event, yeah?

Lots of exciting stuff coming up in 2015; great time to GET ON THE BUS!