By State Representative Kim Thatcher,
(Salem) An effort to increase voter identification verification was promoted by State Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer, St. Paul, Newberg) this evening during a hearing on House Bill 2386. “There is a growing movement across the country to crack down on voter fraud and to enhance the integrity of the system by requiring voter identification,” Thatcher testified to the Senate Committee on Rules. The amendments proposed by Representative Kim Thatcher would require Oregonians to provide a drivers’ license or other identification in order to register to vote for the first time. This would bring Oregon in line with the federal Help America Votes Act (HAVA), which calls for voters to provide similar information. Thatcher pointed out, “the HAVA requirement only applies to federal elections”¦ your voter file is flagged”¦ you can’t vote in federal elections but for state races and ballot measures your ballot is counted.” According to state officials nearly 2500 Oregonians did not have their votes counted in federal races last November because they had not provided proper identification.
House Bill 2386 sets up a new online voter registration system in Oregon, which includes verification of the voter’s drivers’ license information. The current Oregon Voter Registration Card contains specific language which reads, “new laws require that people must provide identifying information to register to vote.” That information is also posted on the State Elections Division website and it refers to the HAVA requirement. Representative Kim Thatcher feels the same ID verification standards should apply to those registering by mail or in person.
“Voting is one of the most sacred democratic practices in our country. We have no problem flashing our photo ID to cash a check or rent a video,” explained Thatcher. “We should be proud to participate in a process that includes security systems to protect our identification and ensure our ballot is properly counted.”
Voter fraud has been an issue in other parts of the country and voters are now required to produce identification before they can vote in 24 states. Thatcher noted, “since Oregon doesn’t have elections at the polls where people can show their ID, it is even more important to institute safeguards when people first register to vote.” Some form of early voting in-person or by mail is now offered in 30 other states.
Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) mentioned the problems in King County Washington with the number of ballots exceeding the number of voters, and the more than 80,000 phony drivers’ licenses potentially issued in Washington County a few years ago. “Wouldn’t it be reasonable to put the same sort of safeguards onto first time registrants that we would with drivers’ licenses?” asked Ferrioli.
HB 2386 will be back up for a hearing on Friday, May 15th in the Senate Rules Committee at 10:30AM in Hearing Room C at the State Capitol. Representative Kim Thatcher served on the House Elections, Ethics and Rules Committee for four years; she’s currently working on HAVA implementation, and sponsored several election reform measures.