Measure 26 Upheld by Ninth Circuit

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the ban on per-signature bounties for initiative signatures is legal.

From the Associated Press:

A federal appeals court panel Wednesday upheld Oregon's voter-passed ban on paying gatherers by the signature on initiative and referendum petitions...

"This decision affirms Oregon voters' judgment that we need to restore confidence in our initiative and referendum system," said Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. "We will continue to protect our democracy from fraud and forgery by vigorously enforcing the ban on paying-per-signature."

[The Court said] that Oregon "has an important regulatory interest in preventing fraud and its appearances in its electoral processes." It added that "Measure 26 is aimed at combating actual instances of fraud and forgery committed by petition circulators paid on the basis of the number of signature gathered."

From the statement by the Oregon AFL-CIO:

“The court said very clearly today that the First Amendment cannot be used as a fig leaf for fraud and forgery, said Tim Nesbitt, past president of the Oregon AFL-CIO and co-sponsor of Measure 26. “We hope that Oregon’s Initiative Integrity Act (Measure 26) and today’s decision upholding that Act will motivate voters in other states to enact similar safeguards to protect their initiative systems.” ...

Among the plaintiffs was Jason Williams of the Taxpayers Association of Oregon. Williams’ organization tried to place anti-tax measures on the ballot in 2004, but was questioned by Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury’s office about possible violations of Measure 26. Williams (and others) responded to Bradbury’s inquiry by filing the lawsuit alleging Measure 26 was unconstitutional.

Read the decision (PDF) yourself. Discuss.

  • Tom Chamberlain, President, Oregon AFL-CIO (unverified)

    Measure 26 is an important tool in cleaning up the initiative process. In 2001, two petitioners who were paid by the signature admitted to the Department of Justice that 50% to 90% of the signatures on their petitions were illegally collected. Both were convicted (in 2001 and 2002) of felony and misdemeanor charges for their forgeries. These two weren’t the only ones using illegal tactics to increase their catch – the promise of several dollars per signature led to widespread fraud and abuse. The Voter Education Project documented several illegal tactics petitioners used to increase their catch, including:

    · forging signatures;

    · using "bait and switch" tactics to trick voters into signing initiatives they did not support;

    · telling potential signers that "each signature provides one hour of tutoring" for disadvantaged youth;

    · rushing signers and controlling the clip board in a way that would make it difficult for voters to be fully aware of what they were signing;

    · giving T-shirts in exchange for signatures;

    · telling voters that they had to sign up to 20 "copies" of an initiative in order to validate their first signature, when in reality they had signed many different initiatives; and

    · "signing out" on petition sheets they had not collected.(This is false certification and under Oregon law it invalidates all the signatures on a petition sheet;)

    · registering underage people to vote while assuring them it was legal in order to get them to sign.

    You can see the full Voter Education Project affidavit on the AFL-CIO site .

  • progvoice (unverified)

    What does any of that have to do with paying per signature? Bad people doing bad work in any job could still do all that. They still do that.

    All of those things you listed are illegal whether or not a circulator is paid per signature.

  • LT (unverified)

    What does any of that have to do with paying per signature?

    Anyone who has said "the voters have spoken" on Measure 30 or any other measure should realize the voters have spoken on this one.

    Or else, change the slogan to "the voters have only spoken on the measures I agree with".

  • Tom Chamberlain (unverified)

    Paying per signature encourages fraud like this: If you can earn $3 for each signature you turn in, then you can make $9 per hour if you get 3 signatures in an hour. OR, you can make $60 per hour if you use one or more of those tactics above to “get” 20 signatures in an hour. On the other hand, of you’re going to earn $10 per hour regardless of the number of signatures you’re gathering, then there’s no financial incentive to cheat.

  • J Hoffa (unverified)

    "You can see the full Voter Education Project affidavit on the AFL-CIO site."

    This sentence tells you all you need to know about Measure 26.

    First off the group should be called the Voter Eradication(Intimidation) Project and the unions backed it because they got tired of dealing w/ Sizemore and his attempts to make them be honest.

    Now w/ M26 no one on either side of the political spectrum can gauge what it costs to put an Initiative/Measure on Oregon's ballot. Why? Because no one knows what it will cost to collect the needed signatures. This of course doesn't matter to teh unions as they just leach all the money they need from tehir members regardless of whether the members support the cause or not.

    <h2>Don't be too happy w/ this victory because now a lot of your little pet causes won't make it to the ballot w/o a boat load of money being spent. That is if this case doesn't get appealed up teh ffod chain.</h2>
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