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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Turnout Of Automatically Registered Voters In Oregon Tops 40 Percent

Kevin Mooney
Northwest News Network
About 42 percent of people who were automatically registered to vote in Oregon this year returned their ballot ahead of last week's election.

According to numbers released Monday by the Oregon Secretary of State's office, about 42 percent of people who were automatically registered to vote this year did so in this month's election.

This was the first general election since Oregon's new automatic voter registration law took effect in January. The law registers eligible people who have some sort of contact with the Oregon DMV. People can opt out if they choose, but most people have remained registered.

Turnout among automatically registered voters was far lower than the overall turnout rate of 79 percent. But among those who chose a party, turnout was comparable to those who registered the conventional way.

All told, just over 97,000 ballots were cast in Oregon by people who were registered through the state's so-called Motor Voter law.

The turnout rate among automatically registered voters was much higher in the general election than it was in the May primary. In May, just 19 percent of automatically registered voters returned a ballot. That's likely due to the fact that unaffiliated voters generally had few contests on their ballot, compared to Democratic and Republican voters who were choosing a presidential nominee.