Secretary of State Kate Brown praised the Legislature last week for approving Oregon's online voter registration system

The bill won final approval Tuesday and went to Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

Brown said young people, the disabled and members of the military will be the winners once the legislation becomes law.

"Not only will this make registering to vote easier, safer and more secure, but will bring voter registration to where so many young people live: the online world," Brown said.

Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, supported the bill. He said it provides another avenue for younger voters to participate.

Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, was excused the day it passed the House, but he voted for it in the Ways & Means Committee.

"I think it's a good thing," he said, adding that it would provide a third way for people to resister to vote. He sees it as a way to increase voter registration.

Sen. David Nelson voted aye when it came to a floor vote.

I don't buy it. I agree online voter registration should be easier and more convenient, but safer and more secure? I don't think so.

Anyone who's honest will agree Oregon's vote-by-mail system leaves a lot to be desired in the security department.

Many of today's young voters have no concept of going to the polls to cast their secret ballot. The system, while sometimes slow and labor intensive, was the purest form of voting.

Those going to the polls signed the poll book before receiving their ballot. Without leaving the building, they waited their turn to enter a polling booth to cast their ballots. When finished, they handed it to a poll worker, who checked the individual off as having voted.

There was no discussion among voters about who was the best candidate or the merits or demerits of a ballot measure. There was no opportunity for spouses to vote together. Voter influence of any kind was forbidden.

The idea that voting in Oregon today remains that pure is a joke. Vote-by-mail has diluted that purity considerably.

And now the state is adding online voter registration. It will allow people to register and vote without ever seeing an election official face to face. That's not right, and it could lead to even more voter fraud.

Proponents of House Bill 2386, believe they've solved the security issue by tying voter registration to driver license registrations. But no doubt someone will find a way to get around it.

The bill, which Kulongoski is expected to sign, requires the Secretary of State to have the online registration system operating by March 1, 2010.

So don't expect any problems to surface for another year, but I'm betting they will.

Jenson said he favors e-mail voting, but admits he's probably a year of two ahead of his time.

Of course, that will be Secretary of State's next volley. It surely will succeed, and further water down the secrecy and security of voting in Oregon.

Dean Brickey is a senior reporter for the East Oregonian. Readers may e-mail or call him at 541-564-4536.

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