Ballot Measures Bring Voters To The Polls

On November 6th, the Oregon General Election will take place. While Oregon has a historically high voting rate, one in five registered voters fail to reach the polls (Photo via Creative Commons).

On November 6th, the 2018 Oregon general election will take place, with seats open for governor, state legislature, supreme court, and court of appeals. In addition to elections for public office, eight new ballot measures are being put to vote.

These measures tackle hotly debated topics ranging from immigration to abortion. A “yes” vote for Measure 105 would repeal Oregon’s Sanctuary State Law, allowing law enforcement to cooperate with the government to apprehend illegal immigrants on account of their immigration status. Oregon has long been regarded as one of the safest and most welcoming states for illegal immigrants, and Measure 105 would change that. Measure 106 would prohibit public funds from being used for abortions, making it more difficult for low income women to get abortions.

Measure 103 is one of the most unique in recent memory. There is no sales tax on groceries in Oregon, but if passed, Measure 103 will prohibit legislature from ever enacting a grocery tax. Nearly all ballot measures are in response to a particular issue, but 103 is in preparation of one. The prevention of taxation on groceries would give large corporations peace of mind, and prohibit more controversial products like soda from ever being taxed.

Since turning to a vote-by-mail system in 1998, Oregon has had high voter turnout in both state and federal elections. In the 2016 presidential election, Oregon ranked seventh in voter turnout. This was due in large part to automatic voter registration (AVR). By working with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Oregon is able to register anyone who has recorded DMV information to vote. Over 260,000 new Oregon residents voted for the first time, and the percentage of total population voting rose four percent, to just over 68%. A similar bill was considered in 2013 to implement AVR in Oregon general elections as well, but ultimately didn’t receive the votes needed.

Over the past decade, about 78% of the Oregon population have turned in their general election ballots on voting day. Still, this leaves over one in five people unaccounted for. Recently, a greater importance has been placed on the youth vote, with organizations pushing for 18 and 19 year olds to vote. Nicholas Mundorff (12) is a newly registered voter, and urges other high school students to vote, saying, “Protests only do so much, social media posts only do so much, so voting is the best way to improve your community.”

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