Oregon lawmakers introduce national vote-by-mail bill

WASHINGTON – With the goal of making voting easier and more accessible to all Americans, three Oregon lawmakers introduced a bill to expand Oregon’s vote-by-mail system nationwide.

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Representative Earl Blumenauer, introduced the Vote By Mail Act, along with Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

The bill requires all states to give registered voters the opportunity to vote by mail. Voters would receive ballots in the mail several weeks before elections.

“Too many states are making working Americans, people of color, young people and those with disabilities go to absurd lengths just to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Wyden said in a news release.

The Vote By Mail Act also expands on Oregon’s automatic voter registration program. It requires states to ensure that anyone who gives identifying information to their state’s department of motor vehicles is automatically registered to vote.

“Instead of making it harder to vote, as far too many states across the country have done, we should make it easier – just like in Oregon,” said Merkley. “Automatic registration combined with vote-by-mail eliminates the absurd obstacle courses that face would-be voters in too many states.”

The Unites States Postal Service would help states with the costs of mailing ballots to voters.

Wyden has long been an advocate of voting by mail. In 2000, Oregon became the nation’s first state to adopt a vote-by-mail system for all elections.

“Government can never truly represent the American people if citizens don’t have the opportunity to have their voices heard at the ballot box,” Wyden said.

The American Association of People with Disabilities, American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause and National Association of Letter Carriers all announced their support for the Vote By Mail Act.