Remarks as Prepared
Dec. 12, 2016
Thank you for coming to help celebrate the first year of Oregon’s landmark automatic voter registration program, or as it has become known across the country, Oregon Motor Voter.
Because of the tireless work of many of the people in this room and around the state, Oregon embodies the idea that every voice matters.
I’d like to thank Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins and her staff for making that a reality for thousands of Oregonians whose voices will now have the opportunity to be heard..
Oregon Motor Voter created a new paradigm. It allowed advocacy organizations throughout the state to spend time and resources engaging and educating voters about candidates and measures on the ballot, rather than spend their time doing voter registration.
That hard work clearly paid off.
In the November 2016 general election, over 97,000 ballots were cast by new voters registered through the Oregon Motor Voter program. That’s a turnout rate of almost of 40 percent.
With an overall rate exceeding 80 percent, Oregon had one of the highest voter turnouts in the country.
Oregon now shares an important value that I am very proud of — expanding voter access. We know our government is made stronger and better with more perspectives, not fewer. Democracy is like a muscle: it gets stronger with use.
Our hard work couldn’t have come at a more important time.
This past election cycle was one of the most hard-fought and difficult in recent history. Now, seven weeks later, we are all watching closely as the new administration takes shape.
Many throughout our state’s history have fought for and demanded rights for all Oregonians. In Oregon, we will not backtrack on the human and civil rights of our people.
In our Oregon, all people are created equal. Love wins. Black Lives Matter. Immigrants and refugees are welcome. Disabilities are respected. Women are in charge of their bodies. People and planet are valued over profit. And diversity is celebrated.
These are important ideals, and the first step to achieving these ideals is to vote. And we must continue to make sure that every eligible Oregonian has the chance to participate in that sacred civic duty.
The challenge we have ahead of us is to honor the faith voters have placed in us - as elected leaders, advocates, and public employees - to protect their rights, preserving opportunities to exercise their right to speak up, to stand up for what matters most to them. What makes Oregon their home.
Together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive state for our families, and for future generations of Oregonians.