Thank you Madam Speaker. To the bill.
Imagine that you’re sitting at home with your spouse on Friday night watching TV. Suddenly!!! Police break down your door and start going through your cupboards, drawers, and file cabinets.
You jump up and yell, “STOP! I have a 4th amendment right to privacy in my own home. Show me a warrant.”
The officer responds, “I don’t need a warrant to search your home. You’ve never for registered for your 4th amendment rights. You didn’t fill out the mandatory government paperwork to register, so I get to assume that you don’t want your 4th amendment rights.”
Maybe the officer sees your hunting rifles on the wall and decides to make off with them. You can’t assert your 2nd amendment right unless you’ve registered to protect those rights, and updated that registration if you’ve moved recently.
I can picture state officials at the doors of churches, mosques, temples, synagogues all over the state every week just checking to make sure that you registered for your 1st amendment rights before you can go worship.
“I’m mean, you can’t just wake up one morning and decide you want to worship. Right? How do we know you really mean it unless you fill out that mandatory government paperwork. And fill it out at least two weeks before you go worship.?” (heavy sarcasm)
I could go on, colleagues, but I think you get the point.
Mandating government paperwork to register before exercising any of our other fundamental constitutional rights sounds absurd.
So I’m honestly baffled that we’re even debating whether to keep a mandatory government paperwork requirement for our most fundamental right. The right to vote. In fact, this right is the single right that appears the most often in the constitution’s text. It is mentioned 5 times in 4 different amendments, the 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th. Each uses the same powerful language to protect it:
“The right of citizens of the U.S. to vote shall not be denied or abridged. . .”
It’s been said that voting is a civic duty and a responsibility of good citizenship. And if that’s what voting means to you, great. I feel the same way about attending church. When I had my son a deep sense of responsibility was awakened and we joined a community church out of this sense of responsibility. But my sense of responsibility did not transform my 1st amendment rights.
Regardless of how I feel about attending worship, from the government’s perspective, it is and remains, a fundamental right.
The same is true for voting. If you believe voting is a duty or a responsibility, great. This bill doesn’t change that.
Regardless of how you feel about voting, from the government’s perspective, it is and remains, a fundamental right.
The fact is, the arguments I’ve heard today against this bill simply would not fly if we were debating a mandatory government paperwork registration before Oregonians could exercise any other fundamental right.
So I urge you to set these arguments aside and seize the opportunity to make Oregonians, the people who we serve, the first citizens in the nation with their right to vote as accessible as their other fundamental rights.
I urge you to join me in voting yes to make Oregon the first state in the nation to put a ballot in the hands of every eligible voter.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.