2021 Legislative Priorities

people doing voter registration

Expanding Elections Equity and Access

Coming into the 2021 Legislative Session we know we must continue to push our democracy forward. While Oregon is one of the most accessible states to vote in because of policies like AVR, online and pre-registration, and most recently, paid postage, there are still many gaps that need to be filled to ensure that every single eligible voter can participate in our elections. We’re excited to be able to lead and collaborate on legislative priorities in 2021 that are necessary next steps to make sure that Oregon continues to be a leader in equitable and just elections. Check out our 2021 legislative priorities below, and take action!

2021 Legislative Priorities

This work can’t be done alone. If you are passionate about any of these topics there will be many opportunities to support virtually through testimony and youth lobby days. Please reach out to our Policy and Communications Manager, Isabela, at isabela@nextuporegon.org if you have any questions, would like to endorse or discuss these priorities.

Restoration of Voting Rights

SB 571 & HB 2366

Voting is a civil right. This bill will restore the right to vote to citizens currently serving prison sentences for felony convictions. It would overturn decades of disenfranchisement of incarcerated Oregonians which disproportionately silences the voices of Black and Indigenous people.

17 Year Old Voting in Primary Elections

HB 2679

Primaries are an integral part of the elections. This policy extends a say in who will move forward in a primary to all eligible voters who will be participating in the general election.

Social Studies Standards Updates

SB 702

This bill requires that when the State Board of Education is reviewing social studies standards for kindergarten through grade 12, they shall consider emphasizing civics education and consult various community stakeholders. This allows for an in-depth discussion on creating accessible instruction-related to: (a) Voting rights and how to vote; (b) Current and historical social movements; and (c) The roles of local governments and tribal governments.

16 & 17 Year Old Voting in School Board Elections

SB 776

Allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to participate in school board elections is a bold idea to strengthen our democracy. This can help spur voter turnout, civic engagement, encourage effective civic education, and ensure that school districts are responsive to the needs of all students.

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)

HB 2678 / SB 791

Used by more than 10 million people in real elections across the U.S., RCV is a simple upgrade to how we vote that provides voters with more choices and includes more voices. It reduces barriers for voters eliminating the spoiler effect and forces us to choose who “can win” and guarantees that winning candidates have always received more than half the vote.

Modernizing Voter Registration

HB 2499

We must follow the lead of other states by extending automatic voter registration (AVR) to other agencies. We propose Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Revenue, and any state agency designated by Governor in the future. We also propose updates to our online voter registration system. Together, these changes will reach almost all potential voters in Oregon and bring the state closer to registration rolls that are as current and complete as possible.

Updating Post-Mark Date for Ballots

HB 2687

Requires ballots returned by mail to be postmarked not later than date of election. We know there are Oregonians who become non-voters and don’t cast their ballots because they think they are too late to mail the ballot, and dropping off their ballots is a barrier due to mobility/transportation, lack of available dropbox locations, confusion over mailing deadlines.

Campaign Finance Reform

SB 255 & HB 2680

We want campaign finance limits that allow marginalized groups to use collective power to build better outcomes. Limits should be grounded in the realities of electoral organizing. Our work and our communities are greatly impacted by the reality that the voices of everyday Oregonians are drowned out by wealthy people and interests who may make unlimited contributions to electoral races.

Same Day Voter Registration

HJR 11

We are ready for this statewide ballot measure that puts us in line with 21 other states. The history of why we don’t have same day voter registration is an entire generation behind us, and it is time to bring this access back. According to Demos, states with same-day voter registration “boast higher-than-average voter turnout, have fewer provisional ballots, experience insignificant increases in costs or administrative difficulty, and have the benefit of enhanced citizen participation in our democratic process.”

Fair Shot Agenda

We’re proud to be a Fair Shot For All coalition partner. Our work as a coalition is centered on ideas and input from those both historically and currently bearing the burden of Oregon’s broken systems and the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Fair Shot for All will be focused on: Child care for Oregon (HB 2503 + SB 239), Just Enforcement Act (HB 2205), Universal Legal Representation (LC 2786) + Sanctuary Promise Act (LC 2690), Justice For All (HB 2169)Healthy Homes (HB 2842).

Endorsements

The Civics Education Act

SB 513

Led by Classroom Law Project; The Civics Education Act will ensure that every student will receive a civic education course as part of the existing high-school social studies requirement.

Data Equity & Voter Access Act

HB 2745 & HB 3021

A coalition effort including Forward Together Action, OLCV, Apano, OSA, AFSCME, NW Health Foundation and Coalition of Communities of Color; Oregon is behind on collecting race and ethnicity data to address inequities in voting populations. The power and long-term return of self-identified race, ethnicity, and language data will strengthen Oregon’s motor voter law and our democracy. HB 2745 would require that voter registration cards and electronic voter registration pages include the ability for Oregon voters to mark optional demographic information, including race, ethnicity, and preferred language.

Prohibiting Slavery

SJR 10

Led by OASIS; SJR 10 would propose an amendment to Oregon Constitution to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances.

Student Voice Bill

HB 2590

Led by Oregon Student Association, the Student Voice Bill, championed by Rep Alonso Leon, which would create a legislative committee to tour every public university and community college in Oregon to hear from students, faculty, and staff and focus on what support institutions need to help underrepresented students, particularly BIPOC students, low-income students, rural students, student parents, and students with a GED or High School equivalency.

Justice Reinvestment

HB 2002

Led by Partnership for Safety and Justice, Justice Reinvestment has provided a blueprint for Oregon: Reduce the use of state taxpayer dollars on ineffective incarceration, and instead invest in local communities across the state. Find out more here.

Justice for Survivor-Defendants

HB 2825

Led by Oregon Justice Resource Center, HB 2825 will allow for more just sentencing for criminal defendants who are survivors of domestic violence and for whom that abuse was a contributing factor in the commission of the crime. Find out more here.