I hope you had time, or soon have time, to watch President Obama’s historic speech from Selma, Alabama. Some have called it the best speech of his presidency.
He stood on the bridge at Selma to mark the 50 year anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and called for a renewal of the Voting Rights Act saying,
…Right now, in 2015, 50 years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood, so much sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, the Voting Rights Act stands weakened, its future subject to political rancor. How can that be? The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic efforts. President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office. President George W. Bush signed its renewal when he was in office. One hundred members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right to protect it. If we want to honor this day, let that hundred go back to Washington and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore that law this year. That’s how we honor those on this bridge…
While other states are constructing barriers, Oregon is working to clear the path of even the slightest obstacles to voting. Last week, the Oregon House and Senate passed HB2177. Under HB2177, through routine interaction with the DMV, eligible Oregonians will be automatically registered to vote, with an opportunity to opt-out if they choose. New Moter Voter, as it is called, was the signature priority for (then Secretary of State, now) Governor Kate Brown. Upon her signature, Oregonians will become the first people in the nation to enjoy opt-out voter registration.
As Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Eugene, Junction City) said in her closing remarks before the passage of HB2177:
…When [my colleague] asked, “Are the barriers large?” No. But they are there. So why make registering to vote easier? Why not?…
Oregon continues to blaze the trail. Onward!
For my remarks on HB2177, watch here.