As the November election approaches, in the tense atmosphere of a national pandemic, wildfires and civic unrest, Oregon’s decades of experience with mail-in ballots and online voter registration mean we could equal or exceed the voter participation rates of previous elections. Just one question remains: will we?
The League of Women Voters has conducted voter registration drives for a century at public meetings, citizenship ceremonies, schools and street fairs. Those opportunities are not available now; yet we persevere.
We just need to ask, in a grocery line or in online classes and throughout the community, “Are you registered to vote? Can I help you with that?” Then, masked and at a six-foot distance, we can direct future voters to the state’s online registration site Oregonvotes.gov or to the League’s national website VOTE411.org, which also offers nonpartisan election information. (Voters can also use these sites to check that they are registered or to update the address on their registrations.)
With government-issued ID, like a driver’s license, one can register to vote online in minutes. Lacking that ID, aspiring voters must deliver or mail a printed application to the county elections office by the registration deadline, October 13.
Every vote is a voice. When you help someone register, you are saying “I believe you have a right to be heard.” That is a powerful message to send each other right now.
Debbie Kaye and Katie Pool
Kaye is president of the League of Women Voters of Portland and Pool is the organization’s voter registration coordinator.