OP/ED: Voter Rules

www.tillamookcountypioneer.net

By Kim Rosenberg

My husband Ben and I moved here (Manzanita) full-time in May of 2020. Our house on Edmund Lane was a licensed short-term rental at the time. Like a lot of people we rented it to cover our mortgage and used it as much as we could. When Covid forced Ben to teach on-line and my health worsened we decided to try living here year round.

Manzanita was in the run up to a contentious election then–in fact, our whole country was. I didn’t follow the ballot measures or the candidates here. I figured the people living in Manzanita would know best how to vote for this community. I voted in Portland where our primary residence was and where I’d lived for most of my life.

After a year we decided we loved living here so much we’d make the big step and be full-timers, letting our STR license lapse this year and making a new life here in Manzanita.

In order to determine our residency I looked at ORS.247.035, which gives you a list to figure it all out. It includes where your primary mailing address is, where your driver’s license is issued, where you file your state and federal taxes, where your car is registered, the address from which your utilities are paid. Pretty straight forward, right?

But nothing in legalese is simple to discern because the statute reads in 1. a): “The person’s residence shall be the place in which habitation is fixed and to which, when the person is absent, the person intends to return.”

Does this mean that a second homeowner could decide to vote in Manzanita? Intention is one of those slippery slope words that means what you decide it means.

But then later on in ORS.247.035 1.c): “A person shall not be considered to have gained a residence in any location in this state into which the person comes for temporary purposes only, without the intention of making it the person’s home.”

That seems opposite!

I emailed the Oregon Secretary of State’s office about this and they referred me back to the residency requirements. Where does your mail go? Where is your car registered? Where is your license issued?

It takes awhile to get to know a place and Ben and I decided to wait to change our voter’s registration until we made the commitment to stay put. We voted here this May for the primary and are looking forward to voting here this fall.

What I didn’t know about before I lived here full-time was a lot. I didn’t know how polarized the community was about the City Hall, workforce housing, STR’s, where the best clamming is. I didn’t know how short-term rentals effected livability for so many folks or how much revenue the vacation rental industry generates for the city.

All I knew was that if I asked questions about stuff that was controversial I was likely to wish I hadn’t. Especially, on what I like to call Anti-Social Media. The anonymous nature of Facebook etc seems to unleash the inner middle-schooler in too many people. But this isn’t about that.

To me, voting is a sacred duty and democracy a fragile institution that will fail without our civic and civil engagement. Playing fast and loose with the rules or our words isn’t respectful to all those who died for the rights we take for granted.

The next election is bound to be just as intense as the last one but we have choices to make about how we behave. We could, if we wanted to, have discussions instead of debates about the issues we care about. We could refuse to spread gossip and hateful words about those who disagree with us. We could agree to disagree. We could treat each other with respect.

I think the measure of a person isn’t how they treat those they like and agree with but how they treat those with whom they differ. That doesn’t mean we don’t have hard, honest conversations about difficult things with the people we don’t agree with. In fact, that’s where the solutions lie.

Just imagine what we could do if we played well together?