Voters should take the initiative to register

Rep. Sal Esquivel

Rep. Sal Esquivel

I can still remember the first time I voted.  It was 1972, two years after I returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Back, then, the voting age was 21. I had recently reached that milestone, and was eager to exercise my rights as a U.S. citizen.

The reason I’m sharing this anecdote is to illustrate the importance of this rite of passage. Legislation has been proposed in the current session in Salem to make dramatic changes to this longstanding tradition, and I wanted to express my reasons for opposing it.

House Bill 3521 would direct the Secretary of State to automatically register eligible and qualified voters.

On the surface, this may not sound like a bad idea. But like many well-intended proposals, it is filled with potential negative consequences.

Registering to vote should be a personal choice and not a mandate. Once we start mandating things to people, freedoms start being eroded.

The last time I checked, registering to vote was voluntary. Making registration mandatory is both outrageous and over the line.

HB 3521 could also create problems with the overall integrity of our voting system. Confusion could arise as people automatically assume that they are registered. There’s also the danger of more government agencies exchanging personal information about citizens without their knowledge or permission.

This bill has passed through the House Rules Committee, and is currently in the Ways and Means Subcommittee on General Government.

But because of all these reasons, I plan to oppose it.

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