Observer staff

SALEM — The Oregon Motor Voter program registered a total of 272,702 voters from the beginning of 2016 through November, according to a report released Monday by the Oregon Secretary of State.

Secretary of State Jeanne P. Atkins and Gov. Kate Brown released the numbers in the governor’s ceremonial office in an event marking the pioneering program’s last data release of its inaugural year.

“I am proud of the work of our state and local partners who worked tirelessly to make this program a success,” Atkins said. “This would not have been possible without talented managers and dedicated county clerks who implemented Oregon’s vision of a more open voter registration system.”

About 78 percent of the new voters, or 238,876, didn’t return their OMV mailers following their visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and were registered automatically as nonaffiliated voters. About 11 percent, or 33,826 voters, returned their cards with their party selections.

About 8 percent, or 25,731 customers, opted out and chose not to be registered.

Of those who registered for a party, 15,079 registered as Democrats, 11,252 registered as Republicans, and 2,504 registered as Independents.

OMV registered 226,094 voters who were eligible to vote in the Nov. 8 general election. Nearly 44 percent of those voters returned their ballots, exceeding expectations of elections experts. Almost 79 percent of all registered and eligible voters returned their ballots for the Nov. 8 general election.

OMV voters helped reverse the downward trend of participation numbers in general elections since 2004. In addition, Oregon set a new record in the recent general election, with more than 2 million ballots returned.

“These are voters that may not have participated in the election without OMV, and that’s a win no matter the numbers,” Atkins said. “The nation is watching Oregon, the first state to try a program like this, to learn whether automatic voter registration is possible. We can now say that it is.”

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