Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New Oregon voters may be disenfranchised by flawed registration procedure

The New York Times is reporting on exactly the voter registration problem I wrote about here the other day.

In a story running Thursday, the Times says a flawed registration procedure relying on social security information is a problem in swing states, but, based on my own experience registering Oregon voters, I believe it is also a problem here.

If would-be registrants (or those re-registering to change their addresses) don't have their driver's license or driver's license number with them, the default seems to be to provide the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Turns out the default is causing all kinds of problems because social security records aren't matching with new addresses, resulting in disqualifications.

The vague language on the Oregon registration form is likely causing the same kind of problems. I know it confused me as a volunteer registrar, until I had a heart to heart with the clerk at the Multnomah County Elections office. Now I am not using the Social Security default with people I register who don't have their driver's license numbers with them. Instead, I'm sending them home with blank forms to fill out when they can include the license numbers.

Meanwhile, I strongly urge those who have registered or re-registered recently to check to make sure their new registrations are valid. The number to call in Multnomah County is (503) 988-3720. To check on-line to see whether you are registered go here.

Spread the word!

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