In Oregon, we modernized our voting system to allow for online voter registration, vote by mail, and when there are limitations, it’s been our motto to find solutions.

We did it last legislative session with Oregon Motor Voter. We know voter registration continues to be a barrier for individuals to access a ballot. We worked with then Secretary of State Kate Brown, and proposed a solution. We became the first state to proclaim:  If you are an eligible voter, and want to vote,  it is our policy to get you a ballot. From now on, when you go to the DMV, you’ll be registered to vote without any extra steps needed (unless you choose to opt out).

As leading nonprofits working to register, educate and mobilize young voters, Oregon Student Association and the Bus Project are working together to find real solutions to barriers to the ballot. This short session, we have an opportunity to pass a bill that has a real and sensible solution to an urgent problem.

The problem: Many Oregonians are excluded from the voting process because of the requirement of postage stamps on ballots.

We need to do more to ensure all young, eligible voters have access to the polls. When we ask young people if they have a postage stamp, many of them respond with a laugh, confused face, or just say no. Because technology has changed from predominately a world where we pay our bills online, bank online, and do transaction in a more digital world, it has made acquiring a postage stamp impractical. There is a barrier set up that prevents young and low income people from voting. Because post offices have been closing, many Oregonians must go out of their way to purchase a stamp in order to cast a ballot. Millennials often go to school, work multiple jobs, and are not available to go to the post office during business hours, leaving them with few options.

The Oregon Student Associations and the Bus Project have registered hundreds of thousands of Oregonians to vote over the last decade. We want to know when we register voters, that it is an easy, sensible, and empowering experience. Our organizations have a long history with making voter registration more accessible. We helped fight for pre-registration of 17 year olds, online voter registration, and Oregon Motor Voter.

Rural Oregonians who have even less opportunities to purchase postage stamps can benefit a great deal from this. Disadvantaged young people, working parents, and folks living on a fixed income would also benefit from this solution. We would also continue setting precedence for increasing access to our democracy. We think this is the best option to help equalize the playing field and give a voice to everyone. Take action today and tell your legislators to remove barriers to the ballot HERE.

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