To listen to audio recording of the press call on this topic, featuring Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and voting experts, please click here.
Washington, D.C. — A new report released today by the Center for American Progress’ Liz Kennedy and Rob Griffin, along with voting experts Tova Wang and Professor Paul Gronke, provides a demographic and geographic portrait of how Oregon’s automatic voter registration system (AVR)—the first in the nation—has expanded the state’s electorate and registered hundreds of thousands of eligible citizens to vote. The findings of this exclusive new analysis provide strong evidence in favor of AVR, not only given the increase in people registered to vote and voters, but also how the program has succeeded in making Oregon’s voter rolls more representative of the state’s population by registering younger, less urban, lower-income, and more ethnically diverse individuals.
The report is accompanied by a robust set of graphics and charts as well as a video and an interactive map that brings the story to life by showcasing the regions and communities that benefited the most from AVR, displaying both the percentage of AVR registrants in an area as well as their participation rates on election day.
“Automatic voter registration is undeniably the next common-sense step in creating an efficient, secure and modern voter registration system for American voters in the 21st century,” said Liz Kennedy, director of democracy and government reform at the Center for American Progress, and a co-author of the report. “The benefits we’ve found from Oregon’s program include expanding the electorate so it’s more representative of the population and removing barriers to participation, particularly for younger Americans. Our democracy is strengthened and election integrity is improved when more eligible voters can have their voices heard at the ballot box.”
Highlights of the report’s findings include:
- Oregon Motor Voter registrants made up 8.7 percent of people registered to vote and constituted 4.7 percent of all voters in Oregon.
- Oregon’s electorate is now more representative of the state’s population since citizens registered through OMV are younger, more rural, lower-income, and more ethnically diverse.
- Compared with traditional registrants and voters, AVR registrants and voters were noticeably younger—about 40 percent of AVR registrants and 37 percent of AVR voters were age 30 or younger.
- More than 116,000 people registered who were unlikely to have done so otherwise, and more than 40,000 of these previously disengaged people voted in the November election.
The analysis found significant demographic and geographic differences between the newly registered voters and those who registered through traditional means. Compared with traditional registrants and voters, AVR registrants and voters were more likely to live in: areas that are suburban; in low- and middle-income areas; in lower-education areas; and in racially diverse areas. More than 272,000 new people were added to the voter rolls, and more than 98,000 of them were new voters in the November 2016 presidential election.
“Automating registration creates a modernized voter data system which simultaneously encourages voter participation while reducing potential errors,” said Tova Wang, director of research and policy at the Center for Secure and Modern Elections and Senior Democracy Fellow at Demos. “Thanks to the hard work of advocates and elected officials in Oregon, AVR has become a common-sense reform that people across the country support, regardless of political party.”
For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, please contact Tanya Arditi at gro.ssergorpnacirema@itidrat or 202.741.6258.