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Governor Brown Highlights 'Defending Democracy' Agenda

Governor Kate Brown met with the Oregon Senate Campaign Finance Committee on Wednesday — outlining her strategy for bolstering voting rights in the state.

Posted: Jan 23, 2019 4:20 PM
Updated: Jan 23, 2019 4:30 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Speaking before the Oregon State Senate Campaign Finance Committee on Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown outlined what she calls her "defending democracy agenda" — a list of policies intended to strengthen voting rights for constituents.

"Truly representative leadership and access to decision-making roles requires meaningful change to the status quo," said Brown. "We can't begin to address the status quo until we address the constitutional issues. Oregonians have time and again proven that they want campaign finance reform. It's our job as state policy makers to find the best way to accomplish it."

Brown's major points included expanding automatic voter registration, mandating paid postage on mail-in ballots, reforming Oregon's campaign finance laws, and increasing transparency on political expenses.

"It's time to make everyone's mailbox a drop-box — at no cost to the voter. And frankly, the stamp is a functional barrier for voters with disabilities or rural voters who may live far from any drop box — not just for those under 40 who think that ink and a stamp are body are options, not voting necessities," Brown said.

According to the Governor, Oregon was the first state to adopt automatic voter registration at the DMV, a development that she praised — however, she said, that system should be expanded to encompass all eligible citizens.

"We have so much to be proud of in Oregon. While other states are rolling back voting rights, Oregon has led the way," Brown said, referring to mail-in ballots and automatic registration.

Pivoting, Brown then addressed what she called the "wild, wild West" of Oregon's campaign finance laws, or lack thereof. Oregon has some of the most permissive campaign finance rules in the nation — allowing practically infinite contributions to political campaigns from individuals, corporations, and PACs with limited transparency to voters.

"'Defending democracy' is not a mantra I developed," Brown said. "It is a mobilizing force for Americans across the country as they see our nation's most sacred institutions threatened."

Brown suggested greater transparency for campaign contributions and expenditures, plus setting caps for those contributions. Brown cited her own recent gubernatorial race against Rep. Knute Buehler in 2018, which was the most expensive campaign in Oregon history.

"It costs more to run for office in Oregon than it does in Washington [D.C.]," Brown said.

The Governor said that she intends to see some of these changes represented in a constitutional amendment that would appear on the ballot in 2020. Constitutional amendments have to be ratified by popular vote.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 224
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Multnomah260872
Marion169751
Washington167620
Clackamas89425
Umatilla8346
Union3631
Lincoln3494
Lane2533
Malheur2351
Deschutes2240
Polk16612
Linn16510
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Jackson1570
Jefferson1370
Klamath1311
Morrow1191
Benton986
Hood River980
Wasco971
Josephine611
Douglas560
Clatsop550
Coos480
Columbia450
Lake220
Crook150
Tillamook150
Wallowa110
Curry90
Baker80
Sherman30
Harney20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

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Confirmed Cases: 292560

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Riverside21957515
Orange20225376
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San Bernardino16586293
Imperial7464125
Fresno728184
Alameda7245142
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Kern575987
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Sacramento477678
Contra Costa424186
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Santa Barbara380830
San Mateo3743111
Marin323226
Stanislaus300450
Kings282338
Monterey227017
Solano192227
Merced162311
Sonoma148714
Placer97011
Madera8578
San Luis Obispo8453
Yolo76028
Santa Cruz5033
Napa4534
Sutter3234
San Benito3042
Butte2954
El Dorado2800
Lassen2670
Shasta1715
Humboldt1574
Nevada1551
Yuba1543
Glenn1530
Lake1001
Colusa980
Mendocino980
Tehama981
Calaveras610
Del Norte580
Tuolumne580
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Inyo341
Siskiyou330
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