Here's for opting out of opt-out voter registration

Compared to the national Republican Party’s concerted voter suppression campaign, designed to shrink, age, enrich, ruralize and whiten the electorate, the Oregon Democratic Party’s embrace of an opt-out voter registration scheme, designed to do just the opposite, appears almost benign.

But while we find it much less harmful, we find it equally self-serving and disingenuous. The fact the GOP is stacking the deck elsewhere does not justify Democratic efforts to follow suit here.

In the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama carried 93 percent of the black vote, 73 percent of the Asian vote, 71 percent of the Latino vote, 60 percent of the youth vote and 56 percent of the female vote. He picked up a mere 39 percent of the white vote, despite women breaking his way by the highest percentage in history, but still scored an electoral victory of nearly landslide proportions.

In response, Republicans have introduced a flood of bills designed to shape the 2018 electorate more to their liking, 90 of them in 33 states in the past 12 months alone.

They have taken steps, through legislation and other means, to tighten or eliminate early voting, cut voting hours, move registration deadlines up, lessen or eliminate weekend voting, decrease the number of polling places, trim the number of voting machines, eliminate neighborhood polling places, weaken the Voting Rights Act and enact strict voter ID laws. And they are already enjoying measures of success in Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, South and North Carolina, Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas.

Reminiscent of poll taxes and literacy requirements, it’s a shameful and cynical alternative to simply supporting policies that better reflect the needs of minority voters.

Oregon Democrats tread the same dangerous path when they move from simply making it convenient for voters to register and cast ballots, to virtually signing them up by force. And the latter appears to be on the fast track this session.

Oregon already offers adult citizens the chance to quickly and conveniently register when they obtain new driver’s licenses or renew old ones. The proposed legislation would sign them up automatically, subject to an opt-out provision requiring them to return a postcard to withdraw.

In addition to expanding the electorate at the presumptive expense of Republicans, it would serve to dilute the portion affiliated with Oregon’s Independent Party, relegating it to minority status again. That’s by no means lost on Democrats, who regard registered Independents as a growing threat.

Same-day registration would be a worthier and more honorable pursuit.

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