Independents on the Oregon ballot?

When John Kitzhaber bowed out of the 2006 governor's race, he noted that a new law makes it much more difficult for independent candidates to get on the state's ballot.

Today, the Oregonian finally covers the law -- which it says was "barely noticed" during the session. (Nevermind whose fault that is.)

Before the new law, any registered voter could sign a nominating petition for an independent candidate, or attend a nominating convention. Now, anyone who votes in a primary election cannot also help nominate an independent candidate -- regardless of whether the voter signs a petition before or after the primary. And a voter may not sign a petition for more than one candidate.

On the one hand, this will make it harder for independent candidates to get on the ballot - which hurts democracy.

"The goal is to keep independents off the ballot," says Dan Meek, a Portland lawyer and activist who argued against the law when it was before the 2005 Legislature. Democratic and Republican party leaders "don't want anyone siphoning off votes they think they own."

On the other, this will help prevent partisan game-playing and fraud (like that seen during the 2004 Nader debacle) -- which itself hurts democracy.

"This is about preserving one voter, one vote in the nominating process," says Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland, who shepherded the bill through the Senate Rules Committee. "I don't think it's fair for people to vote twice to nominate someone for a position."

Concerns about Oregon's nominating process surfaced in 2004, when consumer activist Ralph Nader tried to get on the state ballot as an independent candidate for president. At the time, Republican and conservative groups were all for a Nader candidacy, under the theory that he would draw votes away from Democrat John Kerry. They encouraged their members to pack the Nader nominating convention, and later, to sign nominating petitions.

Read the rest. Dig in to the legislation. Discuss.

  • (Show?)

    What the O story neglects to point out is that fully 25 percent of Oregonians that are registered to vote belong to a minor party or are non-affiliated and are thus eligible to participate in one nominating process. And since primary election turnout is 46 to 51 percent since vote by mail, there are a whole lot of Ds and Rs that didn't vote in their primary that can sign. Of course if those of you that think the Louisiana system solves all of our problems have your way, none of this will really matter anyway.

  • (Show?)

    if "one person, one vote" is a fundamental concept of our democracy, why would this not apply to primaries? signing a nominating petition is the functional equivalent of voting in a primary: you are saying who you prefer as the candidate for a party -- in this case, non-affiliateds. why should tens of thousands Dems vote in the primary and then sign a petition to get Westlund on the ballot -- his candidacy sure to steal votes from the R nominee? this is fair? you get a single vote in any election, no matter what format your vote takes.

    if an independent is a legit candidate, he or she will get their signatures. Westlund will, and Nader did in 2000 -- that he did not in 2004 only emphasized the how phony he was that year.

  • (Show?)

    I haven't decided how I feel about this change in the law - but it does strike me as odd that you could vote in the primary election, skip the governor's race completely (undervote), and still be barred from signing a petition for the governor's race.

    If our voting systems tracked who voted in each race and not just who turned in a ballot - I think I might be more amenable. (Of course, there are large privacy considerations there.)

  • (Show?)

    I find it absurd that someone who votes in a primary is prohibited from supporting an independent. In most primaries we have a dozen different offices and several ballot measures. The supporters of this law imply that a person should be inelgible to vote on all of these positions/issues so that they can sign a petition for one office. I also think it is not practical to review each ballot to see if they voted for that specific office. When people are interested in independents they frequently vote against the leading candidate in the primary simply to express their frustration. There is no box that says you have a choice for an independent and often that choice is presented after May, not before. Why as progressives do we want to deprive people of their vote?

  • Jeff Bull (unverified)

    I'm with the "this is absurd" camp. The two majors have plenty of leg-up; as such, I see no harm in letting people promote long-shot independents or minor-party candidates for the final, general election ballot. It creates something of a "dual system" to be sure - where you're casting your "real vote" in one spot while (ideally) being active on the level of your conscience (assuming your conscience leans - oh, I dunno - libertarian). If the field was more level, sure, this rule makes sense. As it is, though, third parties suffocate in the wake of the two majors. I say, open it up and let 'er rip.

    The key is, each voter gets only one vote per office in the general, thereby still protecting one-person/one-vote. Call this a tinker.

    I extended the comments a bit on my site (LINK - don't know if I added anything, though.

  • (Show?)

    I'm likely to post something longer as opinion on this point--I meant to get something up before this post went up--but here's the shorter version: the two-party system is a cartel to protect the parties. This solidifies their power and quells minor rebellions. I have a passel of good friends in the Democratic Party, but I don't mind offending them by saying that this is, pure and simple, a blight to democracy. Shame shame shame.

    And Kate Brown's my new rep!

  • Alvin Tostig (unverified)

    Does anyone know if that was a unanimous vote on HB 2614? Did all D's and R's support it?

  • Winston Wolfe (unverified)

    So Jeff,

    How have you tree-hugging liberal nutcases been doing in the state lately?

    Oh, not so good huh?

    Well I have an idea. Let’s keep talking about tearing down the very system that allows a little fringe groups like yours to exist in the first place.

    Another well thought out idea from a fellow Democrat.

    Oh Yeah...Kate Brown is Senator.


    P.S. The most dangerous people are not the republicans rather the self-righteous.

  • (Show?)

    As one of the very few opponents of HB 2614 at the 2005 Legislature, my complaint about it is that it amounts to a 4-fold increase in the number of signatures required to qualify a candidate, as roughly 75% of Oregon registered voters are registered D or R, and the bill effectively places those voters off limits to independents. Are you going to collect a D or R signature on a petition, when the D or R can later decide to cast some vote in the primary (on any office or any ballot measure) and thus disqualify the signature on your petition?

    Also, not mentioned in the Oregonian article, is the intrusion into the affairs of minor parties. The new SoS rule requires that such parties report to the SoS the minutes of every nominating convention and the names and addresses of all persons who attended it. Everyone who attends is deemed to have participated in the nominating process for all offices, whether or not the minor party nominates anyone for that office and whether or not the person participates in the nomination of anyone for any office.

    Re D and R votes for HB 2614 in the Legislature, below is the history of it (meaningless stuff like postponements omitted). Of the 11 no votes in the House, 6 were Ds (generally the more liberal Ds). In the Senate, of the 12 no votes, 3 were Ds (Schrader, Gordly, Metsger). Thus, Ds comprised a majority of the opposition in the House but a minority of the opposition in the Senate. The House then passed the Senate version with only 7 no votes. Of those, 5 were Ds (again, among the more liberal Ds).


    HB 2614 By Representatives KITTS, NOLAN -- Relating to elections. 2-22(H) First reading. Referred to Speaker's desk. 2-24 Referred to Elections and Rules. 3-15 Public Hearing held. 3-18 Public Hearing held. 5-5 Work Session held. 5-9 Recommendation: Do pass. 5-17 Third reading. Carried by Kitts,Nolan. Passed.

    Ayes, 45; Nays, 11--Boquist, Bruun, Buckley, Galizio, Kropf, March, Nelson, Olson, Roblan, Rosenbaum, Shields; Excused, 4--Berger, Boone, Lim, Tomei.

    5-18(S) First reading. Referred to President's desk. 5-24 Referred to Rules. 6-14 Public Hearing held. 6-20 Work Session held. 6-24 Recommendation: Do pass with amendments. (Printed A-Eng.) 6-29 Bill read. Carried by Brown. Passed.

    Ayes, 17; Nays, 12--Atkinson, Beyer, Ferrioli, Gordly, Kruse, Metsger, Nelson, Schrader, Starr, B., Starr, C., Westlund, Whitsett; Excused, 1--Winters.

    6-30(H) House concurred in Senate amendments and repassed bill.

    Ayes, 39; Nays, 7--Bruun, Buckley, Butler, Galizio, Riley, Rosenbaum, Shields; Absent, 1--Wirth; Excused for Business of the House, 13--Avakian, Boone, Hanna, Hansen, Jenson, Krieger, March, Morgan, Richardson, Schaufler, Smith G., Whisnant, Speaker Minnis.

    7-12 Speaker signed. 7-14(S) President signed. 7-21(H) Governor signed. Chapter 593, (2005 Laws): Effective date January 1, 2006.

  • (Show?)

    Winston, just for my amusement, what exactly is the "little fringe groups like yours" that you wish would not exist in the first place? I'll be interested to learn--

  • Lucon (unverified)

    The purpose of the primary is to have citizens choose who is to represent them as opposed to party bosses. Allowing citizens to nominate more than one person to the ballot ensures that everyone has more options when they vote in the general election. Anyone think more options are a bad thing? Anyone ever support a loser in the primary and find them self stuck choosing between the lesser of two evils? I can’t understand how anyone other than an extreme partisan can say that this is a good law. I guess Charlie Ringo is right .

  • km (unverified)

    What if there is a really incredible independent (potential) candidate and a really great party candidate that you'd like to see face off in the main election? I know it's rare to see 2 intelligent and qualified candidates but why should we be limiting our potential choices by making it more difficult to gain entry into the system?

    Honestly, this sounds like a way for the incumbents to protect their territory against an increasingly disatisfied & "independent" public. If Kitzhaber had decided to run as an independent, I think he would have given the incumbent a run for his money and that's a good thing. Competition among candidates can stir up new & better ideas and spirited debate that can help the community.

    I'm currently registered for a specific party but only so that I can vote in the primary. I don't agree with or support many things either party touts but I believe voting is important and I don't want to give up that right. I'm stuck choosing one party over the other when I don't believe in either. If I want to sign a petition for an independent, I should be able to without losing my right to vote.

    I'd expect this sort of bill from George Bush-Republicans but Brown and Nolan pushed it. That tells me they are just as elitist and exclusive as the Republicans out there.

  • Mary Nolan (unverified)

    A bit of perspective seems in order. Let's remember that what this law affects is whose names get printed on the general election ballot. Dan Meek erroneously claims that the new law increases the number of signatures of registered voters required to place a non-affiliated voter's name on the ballot. Nothing in HB 2614 or the administrative rules implementing it changes the signature threshold. Nothing. The law does change the qualifications of eligible signatories, in order to minimize the opportunity for voters (and major parties) to game the nominating processes of either minor parties or non-affiliated office-seekers. Let's make some comparisons. To earn a place on the general election ballot, a person registered as a Democrat or Republican must win her/his party's nomination. Is there anyone out there who can point to a Democratic or Republican nominee for Governor in the last 20 years who had the support of fewer than 75,000 voters in the primary? By contrast, an ambitious non-affiliated voter who wants to be governor need only show support from 18,368 voters (calculated as 1% of the number of votes cast for any candidate in the last Presidential election.) (For Ralph Nader, the bar was less than 16,000 voters.) To those who whine that it's really hard and expensive to collect those signatures now, let's compare the effort and expense needed to win a place on the November ballot as a major party nominee with the effort and expense needed to win a minor party's nomination or a nomination by petition. Four years ago, Bev Stein spent a year of her life and $1 million earning the support of 76,517 registered voters who wanted her name on the general election ballot for governor. She got more votes in May than Tom Cox got in November but it didn't earn her a listing on the general election ballot. This year, Ron Saxton looks to be heading to a similar effort: a year of full-time campaigning and at least $1 million in campaign spending just to get his name on the ballot. Similar conclusions can be drawn from legislative races. Two years ago, there was a contested primary for the Republican nomination in House District 35 (Tigard/King City/SW Portland). Phil Yount (the incumbent, having been appointed to succeed Max Williams) won 1,026 votes, Brad Fudge won 1,495 votes and Suzanne Gallagher won the nomination with 2,711 votes. Only Gallagher's name appeared on the November ballot. A few months after the primary, non-affiliated voter Diane Mandaville submitted signatures from 298 voters (27 more than the mere 271 required) to earn a place on the November ballot. It simply is not disproportionately difficult -- even with this tightening of signatory qualifications -- for credible non-affiliated candidates to earn a spot on the November ballot, statewide or legislative. Indeed, our general election ballot remains broadly accessible to minor party candidates and to non-affiliated candidates. As it should be. With this new law, it is harder for parties to play shenanigans in support of spoiler candidates. Also as it should be.

  • Aaron (unverified)

    For the lawyers out there:

    Would this "suppress" the freedom of speech and to the lesser extent the freedom to congregate?

    I am disgusted that the Democrats in the Senate "accepted" this bill as a safety net issue from stacking the deck against the Democrats on the ballot.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    It is disturbing that the SOS would endorse legislation that renders a nomination signature invalid due to later political participation. (if something just had to be invalidated, shouldn't it have been the second political activity, whichever it is?).

    This system has no way of knowing that someone participated in two nominations for the same office, rather it simply throws away a signature if such a possibility exists (i.e., you could sign a petition for an independent nominee for President, leave the primary ballot blank for that office, and still participate in the primary election).

    This is just another example of the corrupted culture of the SOS office when it comes to use of the limited populist mechanisms available. The eagerness of this SOS to throw out any signature for invented technical deficiencies has been going on for years at the behest of the public employee union interests. Much of the "progessive" community (Meek and Marbet excluded) have either looked the other way or validated these steps for their short term results (keeping Sizemore off the ballot).

    Now you can see who you've really been serving all along, the corrupted political duopoly. Look at the sponsors of this bill Kitts and Nolan?!? Each serves as a punchline for sundry jokes made by political insiders from the other party. For every "Kitts is a stupid frat boy" post on Blue Oregon there are a dozen observations that Nolan is an "insipid amalgamation of PC cliches and public employee narcissism" in conservative circles.

    Somehow each of them, so vilified as emblematic of hyperpartisanship in Salem, manages reach across party lines to attack the one thing both parties fear -- the strength of independent voters.

  • Scott McLean (unverified)

    Signing a petition to get a candidate on the ballot is NOT equivalent to voting for that candidate, so therefore an independent candidate should be able to use signatures of registered voters who voted in the Democratic or Republican primaries.

    When we sign an initiative petition, that does NOT mean we have voted for that initiative. It only means we want the opportunity to consider the initiative in an election.

    The same is true of signing one's name to get a candidate on the ballot. It's not the same as voting for her or him.

    Oregon is a very independent-thinking state, which is one reason people are so proud to call themselves Oregonians. Elections should be open to all kinds of candidates, not just the ones with Republican and Democrat stamp of approval.

  • (Show?)

    Mary Nolan says that I said this: "Dan Meek erroneously claims that the new law increases the number of signatures of registered voters required to place a non-affiliated voter's name on the ballot."

    I hope that readers did not think I said that. I said that HB 2614 "amounts to a 4-fold increase" and explained the basis for that statement: It effectively increases the number of signatures required by disqualifying about 3/4 of all signatures that would have been valid on such petitions, absent HB 2614. Clearly, its purpose is to make independent candidacies more difficult. One may think that is a good idea or a bad idea, but that is the idea.

    It would have been better simply to increase the number of signatures required, rather than set up a confusing situation in which the signature of an R or a D or a Green or a Libertarian on an independent candidate's petition may not may not ultimately be valid, depending upon whether the signer at some future time either votes in a primary (pertaining to some office) or later takes part in a minor party convention.

    Also, HB 2614 is a logistical nightmare. After all, a minor party convention can occur as late as August 29, 2006 (70 days prior to the election). But the signatures on independent candidate petitions must be verified (by the counties) well before that, as the August 29 is also the last date for an independent candidate for, say, statewide office to file the petition with the Secretary of State, complete with affidavits of county elections officials regarding the number of valid signatures on each petition sheet (no sampling here). Some counties take many days to verify such signatures, even when they are submitted over a period of weeks (not all at once). Thus, it will be impossible to know who attends minor party conventions at the time that signatures for an independent candidate must be counted and verified by the counties, because the minor party conventions can occur later than the counting and verification.

  • (Show?)


    Since Winston didn't get back to you on your question........

    When I shave my head without removing my glasses, I can't get that little are above and behind my ears, and soon two fringe groups begin to form, one on the left and one on the right.

    I hope this helps to clarify things......

  • Scott McLean (unverified)

    It's a BAD LAW to make independent candidacies more difficult.

    What are all the Republican and Democratic candidates afraid of anyway?

    After all the time I've spent in local politics and writing for newspapers, and now publishing Planet News Views( answer is quite obvious.

    Politicians are afraid of one big, bad word:


    They don't want to discuss the issues, and independent candidates will talk issues day and night because, without big special-interest money for TV ads and mailings, issues are all they've got.

    All they've got? Issues are all that really matters.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    As a member of a major party, I must admit that the major parties enjoy a multitude of institutional advantages. Although it is arguable, in a strict sense, that each voter should be able to support only one candidate in the primary round of nomination, I think HB2614 was, in a word - chickenshit.

  • (Show?)

    Here is another twist. Say someone collects the signature of a registered voter who is unaffiliated in March. The voter then registers as a D or R in April and votes (on some office or some ballot measure) in the May primary. Under the SoS rules implementing HB 2614, that person's signature is invalid, even though she was unaffiliated when signing the petition.

    So circulators will have to ask potential signors: Are you a registered D or R? Do you plan to vote in the primary? Do you think you might register as a D or R later and then vote in the primary? Do you think you might attend a minor party convention later?

  • (Show?)

    Other problems and inconsistencies abound:

    Say a R votes in the May primary, then changes registration to Libertarian and participates in a Libertarian nominating convention. T.A. Barnhart should, I think, consider that double-voting in the primary. Yet, it is allowed under HB 2614. Under his rationale, the R vote in the R primary should be retroactively removed (but it is not). Or the voter should be disqualified from the Libertarian convention (but is not).

    Or say an R signs a nominating petition of someone who wants to get on the primary ballot as an R. Later, that person switches registration to D and votes in the D primary (on some race or some ballot measure). The signature on the R nominating petition remains valid. This also would appear to be double-voting in the primary but is allowed by HB 2614.

  • Scott McLean (unverified)

    Now that they can stop thinking about ISSUES so much, they will have more time to campaign, er raise money from what i will dub UNSPECIAL INTERESTS.

    It's sort of like a vacation for them, so while we are at it, let's say we give them a real vacation...

    Of course it will be harder to vote for someone else.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)

    It would be nice if some one (excepting Rep. Nolan who clearly knows the correct facts) would take the time to look up the relevent federal court decisions on this matter, which pretty much back this reform on exactly the 1-person 1-vote grounds Rep. Nolan cites. As I recall, and no coincidence I suppose, one of the most recent losing challenges to a state law similar to this was also in Louisiana. I would look up the actual cites, but frankly based on the previous history of this blog on VBM and Keisling's whacked out non-partisan prmary, it isn't worth the time because people would breeze on by the facts anyway. Go to and you should be able to find at least one case that will have cites to precedents.

    What is really pathetic is that the editors at the Oregonian didn't do their job and ask the reporter to find this out. But nothing new there.

  • Karl (unverified)

    As a progressive I have to agree that this law is "chickenshit". I really resent my ability to express support for what I believe in being limited. I think it is based on fear of people who might vore their conscience. Is that democracy?

  • Robert Harris (unverified)

    Bad facts make bad laws. The Republicans did try to "play shenanigans" as Rep Nolan says, in 2004 by supporting Nadar's petition. But lets not use a sledgehammer to kill this ant. The law is reactionary and anti-democratic.

    First of all, a fix supported by Kitts can't be good and should have been viewed with grave suspicion. Second, while this law may stop major party operatives from getting allegedly spoiler candidates on the ballot, contrary to Rep. Nolan's argument, it also does in fact disenfranchise voters belonging to major parties. I could have to chose between supporting an indie candidate for governor, or participating in the nominations for my local legislators. So the Democratic party has decided that if I'm a member, then I can't support anyone outside the party in their effort to get on a ballot and my "primary vote" for governor is simply not counted.

    Sort of like DeLay's K street project. You're either all in with us or against us.

    The fact that its hard to become a major party nominee is an extremely poor reason to make it difficult for independents to get on the ballot. I don't see the connection at all as no one is forcing anyone to run as a major party candidate. People do that for their own reasons.

    Finally, I think there may be a constitutional issue here. What if I vote in the Demo primary but not vote for a governor nominee. Then sign a petition supporting another candidate for governor. So I haven't "voted twice". Is the answer that I chose to be a democrat, so I can't support anyone else?

  • Bob H. Reinhardt (unverified)

    While we're speaking of "the facts," perhaps we should also highlight the "de facto facts," two of which seem particularly relevant:

    1) The law will make it harder for independents to get on the ballot. Obviously a bad thing.

    2) Getting on the ballot, while an issue, doesn't seem (to me, anyway) to be the biggest problem. The Big Problem is that once you get on the ballot, you've got a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected. This, my friends, is a problem of the first-past-the-post system. If we are really interested in diversifying the population of the Capitol, we need to re-imagine our elections process. Instant Runoff Voting (where you rank the candidates...assuming alternates get on the ballot!), for instance, or (even better) Proportional Representation. Check out some of the alternatives at Fair Vote: The Center for Voting and Democracy. Sounds crazy? Other places are doing it, and let's not forget Oregon's heritage in embracing innovative solutions for the expansion of democracy.

    Maybe this complicates the debate, which isn't a bad thing. But maybe it gets at the heart of the matter, which is probably even better.

  • (Show?)

    As I anticipated, this law puts Oregon in very bad company. Contrary to Rep. Nolan's claim that the Oregon ballot remains "broadly accessible," this law makes Oregon among the three most restrictive states in the union.

    ===Quoting from election law listserv

    Ten states, at some time in the past, provided that voters cannot both vote in a partisan primary and also sign a petition for independent candidates and new parties. This type of law is commonly called a "primary screen-out". The US Supreme Court said these laws are constitutional in 1974, in both American Party of Texas v White, and Storer v Brown.

    Notwithstanding that the "primary screen-out" is constitutional, almost all states have abandoned the idea. Today, the only states that have them are Texas, Nebraska (but Nebraska only has it for presidential independent petitions), and Oregon. Oregon passed the primary screen-out in 2005. The original version of the Oregon bill, HB 2614, said no one could sign for an independent petition if the signer is a member of a qualified political party. That idea was dropped when it was pointed out that an identical scheme in Arizona had been held unconstitutional in federal court in 1999 (Campbell v Hull, 73 F Supp 2d 1081).

    Even though primary screen-outs are considered constitutional, the Oregon law passed in 2005 is vulnerable to court challenge, because it has two specific legal weaknesses. (1) Oregon's law only applies to independent candidate petitions, not petitions to create a new party. There is substantial case law that states may not make ballot access for a single independent candidate more difficult than for an entire new party; (2) Oregon's law says that when a voter engages in both activities, voting in the primary and signing an independent candidate petition, the primary vote is always valid and the signature is never valid. All the other states that ever had a primary screen-out recognized the principle that when the voter engages in both acts, the first is valid and the second is invalid. So Oregon's law is more discriminatory than other states with primary screen-outs.

  • Richard Winger (unverified)

    "One man, one vote" means that all voters must be treated equally. As long as all voters are permitted to make multiple nominations, there is no violation of "one man, one vote". The phrase was coined in South Africa in the 1960's.

    There is nothing intrinsically wrong with letting all voters make multiple nominations. If a voter is analogized to a member of a Board of Directors of an organization, what is wrong with a member of the Board making multiple suggestions, as to which individual should be hired for a single vacancy? As long as all Board members are free to make multiple suggestions, what is undemocratic or unfair about it?

  • (Show?)

    I need to credit Richard Winger for the listserv post. Thanks!

  • (Show?)

    There is reality and perception. The real world impact on elections by this law will be slim to none. Very few serious indepedent candidates comes along and those who are viable enough will be able to collect those signatures.

    HOWEVER, this is going to kill both parties; epsecially Democrats, in the perception game. And we all know perception is reality in politics.

    Well if the supporters of the Open Primary needed a "Case #1" for why they want to break the duopoly on the primary system then the unholy Kitts/Nolan alliance certainly unwittingly handed them one.

    Regardless if Mary Nolan's intentions were good, this law comes off as the ultimate ham-handed attempt to try to address the growin legion of independent voters in this state. Hint to my fellow Dems: if you want independents to vote for us, let's not appear to be restricting their rights to do just that. Just a suggestion.

    As for the law specifically there are two huge (and already addressed) problems:

    1) Signing a petition is not the equivalent of voting. Yes it is a nominating petition but legally that is still not the same as casting a ballot.

    2) Most importantly, we have no idea if the person voted in the primary for Governor or whatever office. They could have been interested in some local Portland races. And undervoted. How do we know they are "voting" twice for the same office?

    Finally, I have to say that while I have nothing but respect for Mary Nolan, I find her comparison between the cost of independent qualification to major party candidates spending and raising vast amount of dollars to not get on the general ballot pretty specious.

    First off, The parties choose and continue to fight for the primary system. No law requires them to do it that way. They could nominate their candidates in any way they see fit.

    Secondily, the benefits confered about the major party nominee come the general election far far far outstrip the cost of winning that nomination.

    Afterall, if the party primary was such a burden why wouldn't we see more independent candidates if it was such an easier road?.

  • activist kaza (unverified)

    One would like to think self-described progressive intellectuals would inherently realize how regressive and illiberal this new law is. But thanks to the many commentators here (esp. Mr. Meek) for giving us the facts that fully illustrate this. What another sad chapter in the on-going unravelling of Oregon's 100-year progressive tradition...(Kitts and Nolan, strange bedfellows indeed!)

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    I seriously wonder about the constitutionality of this law. I'm not a lawyer and I haven't read it, but I don’t like it. Consider the following scenario:

    I’m a Democrat. I have a strong preference for a primary candidate in my state rep. race. I also have strong preferences on several other non-partisan races that will be on the May ballot. And, for the sake of argument, I want Ben Westlund (Independent) to be our next governor, so I sign Ben Westlund’s petition.

    How can the Secretary of State tell whether I voted in the Democratic gubernatorial primary? He can tell if I turned in a ballot. But what if I only voted the non-partisan, initiative and state rep. primary races?

    As I understand it, there is a record of whether I turned in a ballot. But there is no record of whether I voted a particular race. Can the Secretary of State then remove my name from Ben Westlund’s petition, even though I didn’t vote in the gubernatorial primary?

    At best, this law is unenforceable. At worst, it unfairly removes my name from a petition that I legally am entitled to be on.

  • (Show?)

    To answer Bert: Yes, the SoS will remove your name from Ben Westlund's petition, under the circumstances you describe. The law is not unenforceable as to the interplay between petition signatures and the primary election. The SoS will simply refuse to count signatures on nominating petitions for independent candidates until the primary is over. Then he will find invalid every signature that corresponds to someone who returned a ballot in the primary election. So it is not unenforceable.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    That's terrible. Unless separate ballots are sent out for each race (so I can vote on the non-gobernatorial races and sign the petition for the gubernatorial race), that law is like using a chainsaw for a haircut -- it causes more problems than it solves.

    It looks like I'm forced to give up one of the following rights: a.) signing a petition for an independant candidate b.) party membership c.) voting the non-partisan races on the May ballot

    What if I want to vote (which I'm pretty sure is a constitutional right) and maintain my party membership (which I'm pretty sure is a constitutional right) and sign a candidate's petition (okay, I'm not sure if that's a constitutional right)?

    It seems like I should be able to do all three.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)


    I want to make my objection clear. I do not object to choosing between a nominating petition and voting in a primary race for a particular office. I object to choosing between a nominating petition and voting in an election where one of the races is a primary race. There will be a lot of races and measures on the May ballot that have nothing to do with Oregon's governorship. I want to vote on those races and measures.

in the news 2006

connect with blueoregon