Oregonians are known for their pioneering spirit. We are trail blazers who are always exploring new frontiers. We are never satisfied with the status quo, and that is why Oregon is leading efforts to modernize and improve elections.
All Oregonians should be proud of our state’s election systems and processes. As the first state to implement vote-by-mail and automatic voter registration at the DMV, we are leading the nation and defining the best practices on accessibility, security and integrity in elections. Now, we are encouraging other states to follow our example.
To start the New Year, I partnered with Democracy Works and Democracy Fund to host The National Summit on Secure and Efficient Elections. The summit provided an opportunity for state and local elections officials and other elections experts from across the country to discuss improvements to voter registration and security based on Oregon’s successes. Dozens of elections professionals from across the United States attended, including elections officials and clerks, secretaries of state and their staffs, and organizations dedicated to promoting voter accessibility and engagement.
We discussed how Oregon’s unique elections process increases security and integrity, voter participation and efficiency. But the event also was an opportunity for us to learn what other states are doing. The collaboration was meaningful and benefited presenters and attendees alike.
You may have seen news reports about how some states had challenges during their 2018 elections. But the summit wasn’t about assigning blame. Instead, it was an inclusive, open conversation to share and take advantage of best practices and improve elections throughout the country. We are pleased that this new national forum will become an annual event to promote successful innovations and learn from recent elections.
We also have taken a leadership role in the Electronic Registration Information Center or “ERIC.” The center is a non-profit membership organization of 25 states plus the District of Columbia with a mission to help state and local election officials improve the accuracy of their voter rolls, register more eligible citizens to vote, reduce costs and improve the voting process. The organization provides secure, sophisticated data matching services to states in order to improve their ability to identify inaccurate and out-of-date voter registration records, as well as unregistered residents who are likely eligible to vote. States can then contact voters, in compliance with federal and state regulations, to encourage individuals to register or update their existing registration.
Efficient and effective data matching and cleaner voter rolls results in efficiencies including less returned mail, greater integrity in our elections, and fewer provisional ballots on election day.
The race to improve election accessibility and security never ends. We are always working hard to do better and to set the standard of election excellence for the entire nation.
Everyone who is eligible to vote should be able to vote. Oregonians can be proud that we are leading the way and are actively assisting and encouraging other states to join us in excellence.
—Dennis Richardson is Oregon Secretary of State.