Fagan Outlines Legislative Plan: Secretary of State Shemia Fagan is advocating for increased funds to monitor elections and faster responses to records requests, as well as expanding automatic voter registration to include former inmates and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Fagan sent a letter to legislators and held a news conference on Thursday morning to outline her legislative agenda. And she wants millions more so she can start replacing the state’s antiquated campaign financing database, ORESTAR, with a new one and hire more people to examine complaints about violations of election law.
Secretary Of State Fagan Outlines Legislative Plan For Oregon
In his opinion, “now is the moment to reinforce what works effectively in Oregon elections while investing to make essential changes before the 2024 election,” Fagan said.
She declared that her office will fight any law that would make it harder to cast a ballot, such as the one sponsored by three Republican House members that would have voters cast their ballots in person on Election Day unless they requested a postal ballot at least 21 days in advance.
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Furthermore, two pieces of legislation supported by Republican representatives in the House would mandate that counties have all absentee votes in their possession by Election Day. Even if they didn’t arrive until the week after Election Day, ballots that were postmarked on or before the big day will be counted.
To prohibit voters who don’t show up to the polls or don’t update their address every two years from obtaining votes in the mail, Republicans in the legislature have submitted at least three more pieces of legislation to place them on “inactive” status or delete them from the registers completely.
“The right to vote is genuinely under threat in many places of the country, and we are not exempt to this here in Oregon,” Fagan said.
Health Plan And Other Issues
She is leading the charge on a bill that would aid the estimated 171,000 unregistered Oregonians who receive insurance via the Oregon Health Plan. When an Oregon resident applies for or renews a driver’s license or nonoperating ID at the Oregon Department of Transportation, they are automatically registered to vote under the state’s motor voter statute, which went into effect in 2016.
Since then, Oregon has seen a surge of over 800,000 new voters, bringing the total number of registered voters to over 93% of those who are eligible. Individuals enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan are already providing the necessary information for voter registration, including their names, residences, signatures, and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.
Inmates at the Powder Creek Correctional Facility would be eligible for a new state ID and voter registration under a trial program established by the legislation. Although parliamentary Democrats have once again submitted a bill to restore voting rights to those jailed for a felony conviction, current law prohibits anyone serving a term from casting a ballot.
Fagan has stated that she would be lobbying lawmakers to provide her office with the personnel and resources necessary to carry out campaign finance reform.
— Oregon Capital Chronicle (@ORCapChronicle) January 13, 2023
Legislative leaders have stated their intention to pursue contribution ceilings and greater transparency in political spending, and Oregon is now one of just a handful of states with no such limits. Citizens’ organizations are planning to take campaign financing reform to the people in November 2024 if the legislature doesn’t act this year.
Fagan halted a similar initiative driven by good governance organizations in 2022 because the proposals failed to incorporate the full wording of the state statutes they sought to modify.
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Fagan has stated that she is in favor of union-affiliated PACs and other types of “small contributor” PACs as a means of regulating the political contributions that may be made to candidates.
One million dollars from a single contributor is qualitatively different from a million dollars from a million donors to a small donor political action committee, as Fagan put it. But let me be quite clear: whatever the Oregon Legislature decides, I will carry out to the highest standards on behalf of the people of Oregon.
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