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Nonvoters start getting postcards in the mail

Almost 900,000 Ore­gon­ians began receiving postcards last week inviting them to register to vote.

The names were cross-checked against electronic data bases of voter registrations, Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division licenses and identification cards, and Social Security death records.

The project was an­nounced last week by Secretary of State Kate Brown and elections officials in Oregon’s 36 counties.

Unlike an earlier proposal to register voters automatically based on DMV filings — a proposal that died by one vote in the Oregon Senate in 2013 — this plan would simply inform people who receive the postcards of their opportunity to register. Oregon is among the states that allow online registration.

“This system gives people a chance to say yes or no, but they have to do something to register,” said Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess.

The mailings correspond with National Voter Regis­tration Day, held Tuesday.

Oregon’s deadline for registration in the Nov. 4 election is Oct. 14. Voters already registered in Oregon can update their information after the deadline. More than 2 million Oregonians registered to vote.

Of the 2.2 million Oregon voters on the registration rolls in November 2012, 82.8 percent cast ballots, one of the highest in the nation. But Oregon does not fare as well in terms of participation by the eligible population, many of whom are not registered; the rate was 64.3 percent in November 2012. According to Non­profit Vote, Oregon ranked 14th.

Of the 895,026 postcards, nearly half will go to residents in metropolitan Port­land counties: Multnomah, 168,270; Washington, 133,997; Clackamas, 87,424; Yamhill, 24,240; Columbia, 12,829.

People who want to register or update their registration can do so online at www. oregonvotes.org. People who receive postcards, but believe they are already registered, also can check their status on this website.

People also can check with their county elections office or the state Elections Division at 503-986-1518.

The project is intended not only to expand voter registration rolls but also to update them by removing the names of voters who have died, and allowing voters to change their names or addresses.

“It’s going to be a lot of work between now and the (Nov. 4) election, depending on how many people respond,” Burgess said. “But that’s all right; that’s what we’re here for.”

Oregon is one of the members of the Electronic Regis­tration Information Center, which was created in 2012 with help from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Eleven states and Washington, D.C., are members of the consortium.

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