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Oregon Lawmakers Consider Free Postage For Voting By Mail

Oregon lawmakers will consider a measure that would mean voters returning ballots by mail wouldn't need a stamp.
Kevin Mooney
/
Northwest News Network
Oregon lawmakers will consider a measure that would mean voters returning ballots by mail wouldn't need a stamp.

Voting in Oregon could get even easier -- and cheaper. Lawmakers are considering a measure that would require the state to pay the postage when voters return their ballots through the mail.

The proposal in front of lawmakers would require the state to issue "business reply envelopes" when ballots are mailed to voters. This would let people return their ballots without stamps. The government would pick up the cost of postage.

Advocates, including the Oregon Bus Project, said millennials rarely mail anything and are often confused about where to buy stamps. They said having the state pay for postage would give younger voters more access to the polls.

The bill doesn't have a price tag yet, but if every eligible voter took advantage of the offer, it would cost the state more than $1.2 million per election.

In the last general election, however, only 38 percent of ballots were returned by mail. The rest were mostly dropped off at one of dozens of drop-box locations around the state.

The bill is scheduled for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee Tuesday.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.