Rock the Vote's mission is to engage and build political power for young people in our country.
Rock the Vote is the largest non-profit and non-partisan organization in the United States driving the youth vote to the polls. Fusing pop culture, politics, and technology, Rock the Vote works to mobilize the millennial voting bloc and the youth vote, protect voting rights, and advocate for an electoral process and voting system that works for the 21st century electorate.DONATE
By Nathan Howard and Ashley Spillane
Oregon is a land of firsts: vote by mail, public beaches, the bottle bill. When there’s a problem, this state finds an answer and leads the way.
The Beaver State just did it again.
Oregon has passed New Motor Voter, becoming the first state in America to proclaim: If you are an eligible voter, it is our policy to get you a ballot.
From now on, when you go to the DMV, you’ll be registered to vote without any extra steps needed (unless you choose to opt out).
As leading nonprofits working to register, educate and mobilize young voters, Rock the Vote and the Bus Project applaud the work of Oregon lawmakers in updating the state’s registration system. The new bill will grant hundreds of thousands of Oregonians access to vote — not to mention that the state will save about $0.80 for every new registration that’s not the old paper way.
Rock the Vote and the Bus Project have registered hundreds of thousands of Oregonians to vote. But we have always known it shouldn’t be necessary, and we want to focus more on educating people about the elections. Don’t get us wrong - we love what we do. But America is a beacon of free and fair democratic elections and our current system falls short when any citizen trying to vote is turned away for having moved or missing a registration deadline.
Our organizations have a long history with making voter registration more accessible. Back in 1993, Rock the Vote sent thousands of letters to Congress to pass the National Voter Registration Act (the original Motor Voter bill). Twenty years later, it’s the most popular way to register to vote in America.
And the Bus Project helped then-Secretary of State (now Gov.) Kate Brown chart a path to a barrier-free democracy in Oregon. Thanks to her leadership, Oregon was one of America’s first adopters of online voter registration. And Oregon will again make history as the first to launch New Motor Voter.
These provisions will eventually save Oregon millions of dollars: Maricopa County, Arizona, found that each New Motor Voter-type electronic registration costs an estimated $0.03, versus $0.83 per paper voter registration. It will also ensure voters are registered without typos that happen when transferring information from paper forms.
Efficiency, security and accuracy are reason enough to cheer the passage of New Motor Voter. But we are most excited by the citizens who lacked access to the system before and will finally be heard.
Rural Oregonians, who have never been reached by our nonpartisan voter registration drives. Disadvantaged young people who were never taught they needed to register. Working parents who too often moved houses and missed their ballots. And so many more citizens with experiences and opinions that deserve representation.
As these new voters enter our democracy, many will be hungry for information and education on the issues. Alongside the many great civic organization in Oregon, we are ready and excited to help.
Nathan Howard is interim executive director of the Oregon Bus Project, and Ashley Spillane is president of Rock the Vote.