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Has 'Motor Voter' disappointed Democrats?

The landmark law was the brainchild of prominent Oregon Democrats, but so far, the law has done more to pad GOP rosters than Democratic membership.

FILE ART - Gov. Kate BrownOregon's "Motor Voter" automatic registration law has not had the effect that its creators may have anticipated.

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, formerly the Secretary of State, and her successor in the SOS office, Jeanne Atkins, who now chairs the Democratic Party of Oregon, proposed the law.

But the political party that has benefitted most from the law change is the GOP.

Voter registration statistics show that Oregon's Republicans added more voters to their party roster than Democrats did.

The overwhelming number of automatically registered voters are nonaffiliated, meaning they have joined no party at all.

The Democratic Party earlier this month failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to pass a proposal to allow these newly registered and unaligned voters to participate in their primary in 2018. What remains unclear is whether Motor Voter could ultimately benefit the Democrats in the form of more liberal nonaffiliated voters casting ballots for Democratic tickets in the general election.

Asked whether Motor Voter was a disappointment to her party, a spokesman for Gov. Brown said that the law wasn't designed to benefit Democrats.

"The intention of motor voter was … to help all eligible Oregonians have access to the ballot box," said Chris Pair, Brown's communications director. "It's up to the parties themselves to make their case to voters to decide which party they identify with.

"As secretary of state, Governor Brown's role was to reduce the barriers to access and give Oregonians the opportunity to make their voices heard, regardless of political party. What's most important is that over 97,184 people voted in last election and had a really large impact in their communities."

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