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New drivers are eligible to vote in November

My son will be 18 in early October, and is excited to be able to vote for our next president. Will he have to register to vote? Or will he be automatically registered because he is a licensed driver?

— Ann W., Central Point

The short answer to your question, Ann, is yes, your son and anyone with U.S. citizenship and Oregon residency turning 18 by election day are eligible to vote in November's general election. And that will happen automatically, although he can weigh in on his party preference.

Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker said there are two phases turning Oregonians into registered voters via the state's Motor Voter drive.

Phase I kicked in Jan. 1 when the Department of Motor Vehicles issued any new driver license, ID card, learner's permit or updated someone's address.

Those people were automatically registered to vote and sent a postcard, where they could opt out or choose a party by returning the card or going online, Walker said.

"If they do nothing, they remain non-affiliated," she said.

Phase II takes in qualified people to whom the DMV issued a new driver's license, ID card, learner's permit or updated their address during 2014 and 2015.

The state will pull that data up in mid-June, she said. Around July 1, the state will send out postcards allowing the eligible voter to opt out or designate a party affiliation. If there is no response in three weeks, the voter will be marked as unaffiliated.

Registered voters who are 17, but turn 18 before the election are flagged with pending status until their birthday. If your son was among those licensed after Jan. 1, he likely has pending status, Walker said.

On the day a new voter turns 18, the system updates and he or she is put on the list to receive a ballot. Walker said the county has seen 2,000 new voters since Jan. 1 and expects another 9,000-plus when Phase II kicks in.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.