Oregon passes bill to let 16-year-olds pre-register to vote

Oregon continues to lead the way in expanding access to voting.

Lawmakers passed a bill Monday that would lower the age at which voters can pre-register from 17 to 16. Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, is expected to sign it.

Last year, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin implementing automatic voter registration (AVR). Several more states, including California, have since done so.

AVR works by automatically registering people to vote when they come in contact with the state motor vehicles department, among other government agencies. Each year, 20,000 16-year-olds in the state go to the DMV to get their license, according to the new bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Ann Lininger. So, she told a local news network, it makes sense to get them into the voting system at that time.

Pre-registration doesn’t allow someone to vote right away. It just means that when they turn 18, they’ll become registered automatically.

The issue of pre-registration has been a subject of partisan debate in battles over voting. North Carolina eliminated a popular pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year-olds as part of its sweeping 2013 voting law. Much of that law, including the elimination of pre-registration, was struck down by a federal court last year.

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