Shocker: Casino constitutional amendment fails to qualify

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

In a shocker, the Secretary of State announced this morning that one of the two statewide ballot measures designed to legalize a casino in Wood Village failed to qualify for the ballot. The constitutional amendment needed 110,358 valid signatures - and only had 104,629. That's 60.78% of the 172,136 signatures turned in and accepted for verification.

Back on July 3rd, I wrote that - based on the number of signatures turned in - "Both measures should handily make the ballot."

After all, as the O's Kimberly Melton reported yesterday, the average valid rate since 2000 has been 73%. But with 60.78%, the casino constitutional measure fell way short.

Willamette Week reports that initiative sponsors intend to challenge the validation process in court.

Matt Rossman, one of the project’s two local developers, says he and his business partner Bruce Studer intend to challenge the Secretary of State’s signature-validation method in court.

“We strongly believe it needs to be challenged,” Rossman said. “And we will challenge it in the courts.”

Of course, that's a tall order. The courts have been reluctant to get into the nitty-gritty signature-by-signature process, and have regularly upheld the overall system used by the elections division.

No word yet on what this means legally. After all, without the constitutional measure, the companion ballot measure proposes enacting an unconstitutional statute. Perhaps some of our legal eagles could talk through the scenarios. Could the statute sit out there waiting for a constitutional amendment to pass later? Or would it be immediately and forever struck down as unconstitutional?

And, of course, there's the question of what the sponsors will do. If they lose their court fight, will they pull the statutory measure? Can they even pull it once signatures are turned in?

There's coverage from the Oregonian, the Gresham Outlook, the Business Journal.

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    I'm quite sure once the signatures are turned in, the chief petitioners can't withdraw the measure.

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    First, whether the statute would be a nullity or would lie dormant, pending later adoption of a constitutional amendment, is a function of the language of the statute and of the subsequent constitutional amendment. A later constitutional amendment could revive the statute.

    Second, the statutory initiative cannot be withdrawn at this point. It must go on the ballot.

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    And yet an almost 40% rate for kicking out signatures appears to beg for judicial review. What if the review shows the SoS statistical analysis and sytem are fatally flawed and a by-product lets the Mannix proposal through?

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    Yes, by all means, let's do whatever we can to shut down a process of our democracy just so we can stop a Mannix sponsored issue.

    Amazing short-sightedness.

    I'm not sure if this state has ever seen an effort funded to the gills ($1,000,000+ by all reports,) that was all-paid (and 'executed' by Our Oregon darling Ted Blaszak,) and still failed.

    176,566 signatures submitted and they didn't get enough valid to make it?

    Something is going on here that hasn't been reported yet...

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    One bit of discussion that I've heard: The short timeframe that the casino campaign had to collect signatures.

    As Jeff Mapes reported on May 17, the casino campaign "only started collecting signatures this month."

    So, a sprint to the finish might have meant looking for signatures where quality was less - or less time to conduct internal quality control checks.

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      I just completed a prelim analysis of the petition numbers and I can tell you that the did scrub the petition sheets for issues.

      They crossed out a reported 1735 signatures on accepted sheets alone. Compare that to petition 50 where only 209 where crossed out.

      So, pre-duplication: IP76 2174 rejected lines of signatures and 67% validity IP50 631 rejected lines of signatures and 86% validity.

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    I get you on the short time frame, but they did collect near 180k signatures. I can't see how they had ANY quality control measures in place.

    Over half of the state is registered to vote, so with a 60% validity, one wonders if company that was hired to circulate the petitions even asked the signers if they were registered.

    I guess we don't have knowledge of the promises that were made behind closed doors. If Democracy Resources said they could do it, then they are culpable for the failure, if the Chief Petitioners were advised that they could still lose even with those numbers, then they took that risk.

    However, it is my understanding that they stopped circulation of the petitions several days before the deadline, which might say something about how they were advised.

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    I ran into signature gatherers for this campaign a few times. In one case they were telling people that this was an environmental measure, to keep casinos out of the gorge. In another case they kept referring to a "resort," clearly avoiding the word "casino." If they weren't exactly scrupulous about the validity of signatures, I guess I'm not particularly surprised.

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