Registering to vote pays off

September 09, 2009 05:00 am

If you don’t like a law in Oregon, be it statewide or local, you have the right to try to change it – if you can get enough of your neighbors to join you in the request.

There’s a catch, however. You and your neighbors must be registered to vote to make your demand valid.

It’s a catch that has stymied many a voter and organizations asking voters to approve or oppose ballot measures.

Most of these petitioners work hard to collect more than the necessary amount of signatures to get a measure on a ballot, only to learn that citizens who signed the petitions live outside the city or county limits and thus are ineligible to vote on the measure. Worse, some who signed are not registered voters – either because they never registered in the first place or they’ve moved and been purged from voting rolls. People who have recently changed their name, mailing address, residence address or political party affiliation should re-register.

Oregon’s is an especially participatory form of democracy, thanks to constitutional provisions giving citizens the right to write their own laws, vote on laws created by government and attempt to recall officials with whom they’re upset. But those rights come with a catch. They’re granted to registered voters, and registered voters only.

Registering is easy: Voter registration cards are available at the local post office, bank, library, online at or contact the county clerk’s elections office at 1-877-739-4218 or P.O. Box 746, Gold Beach, OR 97444.

Voter registration in Oregon costs nothing, but its payoff is big. With it, you can have a say in how your state and community operate. Without it, and you’re forced to sit on the sidelines and simply take what’s given you, like it or not.

— Curry Coastal Pilot and Wescom News Service