For the past decade, Our Oregon and the politicians that their coalition has financed, have severely undermined the right and ability of ordinary citizens to use ballot title process. Their organization files lawsuits (ballot title challenges in the Oregon Supreme Court) against nearly every proposed ballot measure that they oppose. They do this as a tactic to delay the signature gathering process by an average of 4 months, sometimes much longer, regardless of the quality of the ballot title they are challenging. Their work over the years has created a system where the only groups with the resources to run successful ballot measure campaigns are corporations, public employee unions, and the super-rich.
The Independent Party of Oregon supports Secretary Richardson's efforts to put an end to this kind of abuse. When this policy is in place, we expect to see far fewer bogus lawsuits filed in the Oregon Supreme Court as part of the ballot title process, because the signature gathering process will not be held hostage for 4+ months by frivolous ballot title challenge lawsuits.
The proposed rule is clearly legal and consistent with existing statutes. Those laws already allow signatures on prospective petitions to be counted toward qualifying the proposed measure for the ballot.
250.105 Petition filing requirements; monthly filing; signature verification; rules.
(1) (a) An initiative or referendum petition relating to a state measure must be filed with the Secretary of State for the purpose of verifying whether the petition contains the required number of signatures of electors.
(b) Signatures previously verified on a prospective petition for a state measure to be initiated shall be included in the calculation under this section for the purpose of verifying whether the initiative petition contains the required number of signatures of electors.
The only thing that currently prevents the counting of all signatures on the prospective petition toward ultimate qualification of the proposed measure is a rule adopted by Secretary of State Kate Brown that limits those signatures to 2,000.
Existing law requires that the prospective petition itself include the full text of the proposed measure or that the full text be attached to each signature sheet. While it may be better to have the ballot title on the signature sheets, the laws enacted by the Democrats rejected that alternative and instead dictate that prospective petitions instead have the full text of the proposed measure (over opposing testimony by officers of the Independent Party).
"The same monied special interests that control the legislative process through the Democratic and Republican Parties want to maintain control of the ballot measure process. We applaud SOS Richardson's step by step efforts to return that power to the people," said Rob Harris, a Washington County-based attorney who sits on the party's state council.