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Oregon Voters, Time Is Running Out To Register For The Nov. 5 Election

<p>A ballot is dropped off at the Washington County Elections Office in Beaverton, Ore. on Nov. 5, 2018.</p>

Arya Surowidjojo


A ballot is dropped off at the Washington County Elections Office in Beaverton, Ore. on Nov. 5, 2018.

Time is winding down for unregistered Oregonians looking to take part in the upcoming election.

Residents have until just before midnight on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, to register for the Nov. 5 election, where voters largely will be asked to weigh in on local and regional issues like tax levies and bonds, as well as changes to charters. 

If you have a form of state-issued identification on hand — such as a driver’s license or permit — you can register from your computer. Otherwise, stop by your local county election office, post office, library or DMV to fill out a voter registration card — just make sure you get it postmarked before 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

Due to a 3-year-old Oregon law, the share of unregistered — but eligible — voters is shrinking. 

In 2016, Oregon's “motor voter” act took effect, automatically registering eligible voters in the state using driver’s license data.

John Horvick, political director at polling firm DHM Research, said since Oregon passed the law the number of unaffiliated voters in the state has rapidly increased. 

Between August and September, the number of unaffiliated voters in Oregon increased by more than 9,000, more than twice as fast as the growth of the state's two major parties. The number of registered Democrats increased by about 3,000 and the number of Republicans increased by about 1,000. 

“The overall trend is there’s a lot more nonaffiliated voters registering every month than there are Democrats and Republicans,” Horvick said. “Each month, [the major parties] become a smaller and smaller part of the electorate.” 

Under the motor voter law, new voters are recorded as unaffiliated, a designation he said only about 15% of people ultimately changed. 

Party membership is a requirement to take part in Oregon's primary elections. But that’s not the case for the upcoming November election; voters do not need to be registered with a political party in order to participate. 

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Rebecca Ellis is a reporter with Oregon Public Broadcasting. Before joining OPB, she was a Kroc Fellow at NPR, filing stories for the National Desk in Washington D.C. and reporting from Salt Lake City.