The Bus Project, Oregon’s Voter-Registration Powerhouse, Has a New Name

The nonprofit has championed landmark expansions of voting rights in Oregon.

A rally to impeach President Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2018. (Daniel Stindt)

The Portland voter-turnout nonprofit that urges young Oregonians to turn in their ballots has a new name.

The Bus Project on Friday revealed that it has changed its name to Next Up. The new name and branding emphasize the nonprofit's work on training young political leaders and advocacy on issues like gun control.

The Bus Project was founded in 2001 by an ambitious Portland lawyer named Jefferson Smith, who would go on to serve as a state lawmaker, run for Portland mayor and found the radio station XRAY.FM. (He left the Bus Project in 2011.) The nonprofit has championed landmark expansions of voting rights in Oregon, including online voter registration in 2008 and New Motor Voter, the 2015 law that allows Oregonians to register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

These campaigns have expanded the state's voting rolls—and helped paint Oregon a deeper shade of blue, since the new and young voters tend to be more progressive. For that reason, Republicans have long resented the Bus Project and considered little more than a disguised wing of the Democratic Party.

Under the new name Next Up, the nonprofit is leaning into its reputation for progressive activism. "Next Up amplifies the voice and leadership of diverse young people to achieve a more just and equitable Oregon," the organization says in a mission statement.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.