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How Oregon Increased Voter Turnout More Than Any Other State

Sean McElwee
Brian Schaffner
Jesse Rhodes
The Nation

Recently, policymakers have begun examining automatic voter registration (AVR). It has generated a lot of excitement, and rightly so. New research from Demos examines the effects of Oregon’s recent adoption of Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) on the level and composition of turnout in the 2016 federal election. Using unique individual-level data, we provide new evidence that AVR increased the racial diversity of Oregon’s electorate. Our findings suggest that AVR is effective in raising voter turnout, especially among individuals who are voting for the first time or are less frequent voters. These patterns point to a positive relationship between AVR and increased voter participation, and demonstrates that AVR is a successful reform to reduce political inequities stemming from the historic underrepresentation of young people, people of color and low-income people in the electorate.