SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s pioneering motor voter program, in which residents who interact with the motor vehicle division are automatically registered to vote, hit a software speed bump. But the secretary of state says it’s being resolved.
Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said the Oregon Elections Division on Friday discovered the software error, which for the past six years has failed to pre-register some 16- and 17-year-olds to vote.
Almost 8,000 eligible voters in Oregon were not given the opportunity to become automatically registered voters for the 2022 election.
The office said it was alerted to the issue by a voter who did not receive their ballot.
Fagan will direct county clerks to issue ballots to affected voters.
Here is the press release from the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office:
Salem, OR—On Friday, the Oregon Elections Division discovered a software error, which for the past six years has failed to pre-register some 16- and 17-year-olds when they have a qualifying interaction with the DMV. As a result, 7,767 eligible voters in Oregon — out of 2,976,195 registered voters — were not given the opportunity to become automatically registered voters for the 2022 election. The issue has impacted voters during the last 3 election cycles.
Remedy: Secretary Fagan will direct Oregon’s 36 county clerks to issue ballots to voters impacted by this issue. Only eligible voters for the November General Election, who will be 18 or older on November 8, will receive ballots.
“Eligible voters not receiving their ballots in Oregon is unacceptable,” said Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. “As long as I am Oregon’s Secretary of State, I will do everything in my power to ensure that no eligible voters are disenfranchised. My technical staff worked through the weekend to resolve the software error discovered on Friday and I will be conducting a thorough review of our systems to ensure no other errors impact Oregonian’s ability to make their voices heard in our democracy.”
What is the nature of this software error?
When Oregonians have a qualifying interaction with the DMV, their information is automatically sent to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office where it is used to register them as voters or update their voter registration information. In May of 2016, the software at the Secretary of State’s office that handles this transfer was incorrectly written and, as a result, it has since failed to pre-register 16- and 17-year-olds whose birthdays fall within one month of their DMV interaction. The transfer software is separate from the Oregon Central Voter Registration (OCVR) database.
Who was affected?
17-year-olds (and 16-year-olds after January 1, 2018 when the pre-registration age was lowered to 16) whose birthdays fall within one month of their interaction with the DMV. This is a total of 7,767 voters who are otherwise eligible to vote in the 2022 election. No other people are impacted.
What is the remedy?
The immediate remedy is to issue a ballot to all voters impacted by this error so they can cast a vote in the November election. Secretary Fagan is overseeing her first statewide general election and took decisive action to remedy the problem over the weekend.
Only eligible voters, those who will be 18 or older on November 8, will be issued ballots in this remedy.
Secretary Fagan has directed the agency to conduct a thorough review of the State’s systems to ensure no legacy errors are still impacting voters.
How was this error discovered and what action was taken?
The Oregon Elections Division was alerted to the issue by a voter who didn’t receive a ballot.
The problem was first discovered late Friday morning, October 28. By that afternoon, the Secretary convened leadership of the Elections and Information Systems Division at the Oregon Secretary of State’s office to determine the number of affected voters. Immediately following the meeting, the Office began taking steps to correct the problem. The President of the Oregon Association of County Clerks (OACC) was notified Friday evening and Secretary Fagan met with OACC’s executive committee on Saturday morning to lay out the solution and offer support for county clerks.