September is voter registration month.. Oregon’s Secretary of State, Shemia Fagan, attended Franklin’s Homecoming assembly on Sept. 27 to discuss voter registration with the entire Franklin student body. After a brief introduction by Franklin’s associated student body, including an appearance from the Franklin Post’s own Oscar Ponteri, Fagan took the court. She spoke of her humble upbringing in Wasco County, Oregon: “My dad was a single parent [and] my mother was homeless.” She discussed how she was influenced by her difficult childhood and the past failures of public services. Fagan said, “I have seen the failing housing system in Oregon.”
After her personal anecdotes, Fagan told Franklin about her individual responsibilities as the Secretary of State: “my job is to build trust between [the voters] and the government.” Another one of her responsibilities is educating voters on the process of voting and registration so that they can have a voice in systems that affect them.
At 16, people can register to vote in Oregon, and the process is easier than it may seem. “It takes as much [time] as watering your plants,” or about 90 seconds, says Fagan. You can register to vote online at oregonvote.gov. Once you have registered, you will automatically be sent a ballot in the mail once you turn 18, during the election season.
A few other things to know about voting: if you have your driver’s license, you are already registered to vote, and you can mail in your ballot without a stamp. Fagan says, “all you need is a blue or black pen” to sign your signature.
Fagan also discussed the safety standards and protocols of the voting process. She told the students about how “[she oversees] Oregon’s elections.” To make sure each person only sends in one ballot, each ballot is given a unique barcode and the signatures are checked for authenticity. Oregon also holds a private election, meaning unless you tell them yourself, no one else can see who you voted for. During the time in which votes are being counted, Fagan says that she waits at least a month for the security measures to be taken before confirming the winner.
Voting is easy, it’s fast, and it’s important. Go vote!