Oregon’s six Democrats in Congress want to spread the state’s vote-by-mail law across the country.
Both of Oregon’s senators and four U.S. representatives announced the introduction of a bill Thursday that would require “every state to provide registered voters the opportunity to vote by mail,” according to a statement. The bill summary promises that Congress would cover the postal costs for implementation.
The Democrats argue vote-by-mail would help increase voter participation — in contrast to efforts at the state and federal level that they characterize as suppressing the vote.
"Taking back our government from the special interests starts with making sure every eligible American who wants to vote is able to make their voice heard at the ballot box," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in a joint press release with the bill's other supporters. "Passing Oregon-style vote-by-mail is how we make that happen.”
“We’re in the middle of a national civics lesson," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Portland. "We should be fighting to amplify the voices of all Americans, not stifle them with laws that make voting harder.”
The bill’s summary said it would also call on states to proactively register voters through motor voter efforts. It includes a provision allowing people to opt out of voting if they don't want to be registered.
The National Conference of State Legislatures counts three states with all mail-in elections: Oregon was first in 2000, followed by Washington (2011) and Colorado (2013). California is due to follow suit in 2018.
Wyden, Blumenauer and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., initiated a similar national effort in 2016, but it didn't pass.