Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has announced he will pursue a state law to ensure voters are never removed from voter rolls due to nonparticipation in elections.
There’s no need for such a law.
The issue has come up because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The court recently upheld an Ohio policy to purge voter rolls if people skip elections and don’t respond to notice from election officials over a time period of six years. Oregon had a similar rule if people didn’t vote or update their registration for “not less than five years.” That rule had been interpreted as meaning five years.
Soon after Richardson was elected, he argued the Oregon law had no maximum time and chose to interpret it as 10 years through an administrative rule change.
Then, after this week’s court decision, Richardson submitted a draft of a law for the 2019 session to ensure Oregonians never lose their registration for nonparticipation. “In Oregon, we believe that a registered voter should not lose their voting rights solely because they haven’t participated recently,” he said in a statement.
But if 10 years have passed, and a voter is not participating in elections, what is so unreasonable about removing them from voter rolls? Nothing. They may well have died or moved. There is no need for a new law.