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As Ohio Purges Voter Rolls, Oregon is Going Other Direction

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
File photo of returned ballots at the elections office in Marion County, Oregon.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld an Ohio law that aggressively purges inactive voters from the state’s voter rolls. But Oregon officials have no interest in a similar policy.

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said policies like the one in Ohio have no place here. In fact, he’s been taking Oregon in the opposite direction.

One of Richardson’s first acts as secretary was to make it more difficult to purge inactive voters.

State officials used to remove people when they hadn’t voted or updated their registrations in five years. Richardson extended that window to 10 years.

He said that change has helped Oregon be a national leader in protecting voting rights. And he’s not stopping there.

Richardson plans to push a bill in next year’s legislative session that would prevent people who don’t vote from ever being ruled inactive.

Dirk VanderHart covers Oregon politics and government for OPB. Before barging onto the radio in 2018, he spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter—much of that time reporting on city government for the Portland Mercury. He’s also had stints covering chicanery in Southwest Missouri, the wilds of Ohio in Ohio, and all things Texas on Capitol Hill.