In Oregon — where its first-in-the-nation automatic-voter registration system has been hailed as a pioneer in knocking down voter-access barriers — it takes just five years of failing to participate in an election before a registered voter gets knocked from the active voter rolls and no longer receives a ballot in the mail.
Roughly 400,000 registered Oregonian voters have been flagged as inactive at some point in time, a number that this year is expected to grow by another 30,000 who registered during the 2012 general election when President Barack Obama was up for re-election.
For Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, five years isn't long enough. So this year, he's doubling that timeline to 10 years.
Richardson, the state's first Republican secretary of state in more than 30 years and the first Republican to hold a statewide elected office in 14 years, says that will immediately preserve the statuses of those soon-to-be-inactive voters this year. The change will also be applied retroactively, potentially reactivating another 30,000 or so currently inactive voters by leveraging DMV databases that Richardson's agency already uses to administer the so-called Oregon Motor Voter program.