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PNS Daily Newscast - December 7, 2018 


Democrat Dan McCready takes back his concession in the still-undecided race for Congress in North Carolina. Also, on the Friday rundown: California moves to provide Medi-Cal for undocumented immigrants, and tighter immigration enforcement might make it harder to find a Christmas tree.

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Groups Call Ore. Primary Voter-Turnout Reports "Misleading"

Oregon's 2018 primary election saw a record number of ballots cast, even as the percentage of registered voters who went to the polls went down. (svanblar/iStockphoto)
Oregon's 2018 primary election saw a record number of ballots cast, even as the percentage of registered voters who went to the polls went down. (svanblar/iStockphoto)
May 23, 2018

SALEM, Ore. - Supporters of Oregon's "motor voter" law are pushing back against media reports that last week's primary election turnout, at 33.6 percent of registered voters, was the lowest in decades. They're arguing that statistic is misleading.

State Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, suggested that a better metric would be the percentage of eligible voters - that is, citizens age 18 and older. He said the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot went up more than five points since the last comparable primary in 2014.

"So, not only do you have the highest percentage of eligible voters, which is historic, you also had a historic amount of ballots cast in the 2018 election," he said.

Experts have said the number of registered voters skyrocketed once the state started automatically registering everyone at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and that makes the percentage of folks who actually vote seem smaller, even if the number of people who cast their ballots is higher.

According to Rayfield, the bottom line is that you can't judge the motor voter law by the turnout among registered voters.

"This new base of registered voters has a different turnout rate than the old base," he said, "and so, when you're comparing the turnout from the old system to the new system, you can't expect the same results because it's not an 'apples-to-apples' comparison."

Between 2006 and 2016, the voter rolls in Oregon expanded by 529,000. Rayfield said it stands to reason that people who are automatically registered may be less likely to go to the polls, compared with those who actively chose to register in previous years.

State voter registration statistics are online at bluebook.state.or.us.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - OR