Central Oregon

Despite easy voter access, voter fraud deemed rare in Oregon

New this year: automatic registration when getting driver's license

How prevalent is voter fraud?

BEND, Ore. - This election year, it's even easier than before for Oregon voters to register to vote. Those who renew their driver's license will now automatically be registered to vote.

"While other states are making it more difficult for people to exercise their democratic right to vote, Oregon continues to lead the way in extending access to the ballot," Molly Woon, communications director for Oregon's Secretary of State's Office, said Wednesdsay.

Oregon is the first state, and one of only three so far, to implement all-mail balloting. Voters can now register by mail, or online -- and now are registered automatically when they get their driver's license.

"In Oregon, you're now automatically registered to vote with the secretary of state," Terry Anderson, customer service manager with the DMV, explained to a customer at the Bend office.

Everyone who is renewing a driver's license now gets a brochure from the DMV, informing them about their automatic voter registration.

"I like it," said Redmond resident Katlin Edwards. "I was trying to figure out previously before coming in here what I needed to do to get all my new registration for my voting stuff all updated with new last name and new address. But I don't need to worry about it anymore. They did it for me. "

The information from the DMV gets automatically uploaded to the Secretary of State's Office.

"Once your picture is taken, you're just registered to vote -- you're not affiliated with any party yet," Anderson said.

You still have to register with a political party online.

Oregon voters are not required to show a form of verified identification when voting, unlike 36 other states.

Legislators in favor of voter ID laws said it is needed in order to prevent voter fraud.

Woon said voter fraud is "extremely rare" in Oregon. The State Elections Office got thousands of complaints of possible voter fraud since 2000, but there were only 13 cases of actual fraud found, none in Deschutes County.

Most voter fraud complaints turn out to be simple mistakes, rather than actual fraud.

"People forget to sign their envelopes, or they thought they could sign the envelope of their loved one," Woon said.

Woon said voting might be easy in Oregon, but committing voter fraud is not, due to strict guidelines in place.

"Between the post office and our records system, which are regularly updated and confirmed, voter fraud hasn't come up as a huge concern," Woon said. "Our county clerks are running a pretty tight ship."

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