Oregon: Stuffing the ballot

Mon, Nov 4 2013 — Source: Register-Guard

The initiative and referendum process has been an empowering and, often, mind-numbing exercise for Oregon’s electorate. More than a hundred ballot measures have been voted on in a dozen primary and general elections, and a half-dozen special elections, since the turn of the century, including 12 measures in November 2008 and a whopping 26 measures in November 2000.

The folks over at Ballotpedia, Planet Earth’s No. 1 wiki on election-related matters, have released a list of the “5 Most Notable Ballot Measures” in tomorrow’s election. Here are the five:

Amendment 66 (Colorado) - Tax Increase for Education,_Amendment_66_%282013%29

Initiative 522 (Washington) - Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Measure

Now, finally, a story in the Seattle Times reports the latest Elway Poll results for Initiative 517. Unlike the 40 point closing from YES to NO on I-522, I-517 showed only a nine-point tightening from last month’s results. The Elway Poll was conducted Oct. 13-15, before any TV or radio advertising by the NO side, and found 52 percent support against only 25 percent opposition, and 23 percent undecided.

But the Seattle Times story spun the Elway Poll by combining it with a Moore Information survey, conducted Oct. 23-25, reporting that, “Two recent polls indicate Tim Eyman’s initiative on initiatives, I-517, is losing ground.”

With just over a week to go before the November 5th general election, Washington’s Initiative 517, which concerns the initiative and referendum process in the state, is opposed by a narrow margin.  After hearing the ballot question, 33% of voters plan to or have already voted “yes,” while 40% plan to or have voted “no.” The remaining 27% are undecided or wouldn’t reveal their vote.

Importantly, intensity is stronger on the “no” side – among those who have yet to cast their ballots, 21% say they are a “definite” no vote, while only 11% are a definite “yes” vote.

Read more: here

Two recent polls indicate Tim Eyman’s initiative on initiatives, I-517, is losing ground.

A poll by Moore Information, out of Portland, shows more voters opposing the measure than supporting it. And a Stuart Elway poll, out of Seattle, found a shrinking majority of voters supporting I-517.

With the November 5th election just one week away, opponents of Initiative 517 in Washington are spending more than $600,000 on radio and TV ads twisting the provisions of the “Protect the Initiative Act.”  The money against I-517 has come exclusively from corporate interests such as Safeway, Kroger and the Washington Retail Association – each chipping in $100,000 to oppose 517. 

Even the Washington State Hospital Association has come out against 517, feverishly claiming that the law would allow petitioners to collect signatures outside of hospitals, even though they already currently have the right to do so. (For obvious reasons, hospitals are not good places to petition.)

Counties have verified there are enough valid signatures on petitions to give voters the last word on extensive changes in election laws pushed through the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday that a random check of signatures found 18.38 percent to be invalid. Applying that to the 139,161 that Ken Bennett’s office found preliminarily valid, that leaves backers with 113,583, far more than the 86,405 needed to delay enactment of the law and put the issue on the 2014 ballot.

But Barrett Marson said the Republican interests he represents who want the changes on the books may still sue in a last-ditch attempt to keep the issue from voters.

With less than two weeks before the Nov. 5 election and early voting already well underway, the No on I-517 PAC has gone up with a statewide television advertising campaign. While it is not clear precisely how much is being spent on the TV buy, the No on I-517 group has raised over $500,000 with almost all the funding coming from four sources: Washington Retail Association ($105,000), Kroger, Inc. ($103,000), Safeway, Inc. ($103,000) and the Washington Food Industry Association ($80,000).

In an op-ed posted to his personal Facebook page, the sponsor of Washington’s Initiative 522 regarding genetically modified food, Chris McManus spoke out strongly in favor of Initiative 517 also on the state’s Nov. 5, 2013 ballot.

McManus was especially enamored with the provisions of I-517 that provide protection from intimidation for petitioners and potential signers.  He cited an incident where verbal abuse was spouted at petitioners and, despite a police report being filed, nothing was done by authorities to punish the individuals instigating the harassment.

The goal of Initiative 517 is to grease the skids on the signature gathering process. This latest Tim Eyman initiative is different from some of his others, in that some of his long time opponents are lining up to back it.

One of them is Stoney Bird of Bellingham, who supported a 2012 citizens measure against coal trains rolling through the community.

Read More: here

nitiative 517 sets penalties for interfering with or retaliating against signature-gatherers and petition signers, requires all measures receiving sufficient signatures appear on the ballot, and expands the time for gathering initiative petition signatures from six months to one year.

“The most important thing that Initiative 517 does is it guarantees a voter the right to vote on any initiative that qualifies for the ballot,” said Mark Baerwaldt, co-chair of Yes on 517.

Read More: here

The president of a Washington state property rights group endorsed a YES vote on the pro-initiative Initiative 517 and called charges from opponents that the measure violates the property rights of businesses: “bogus.”

Citizens Alliance for Property Rights President Preston Drew, in a letter to the Snoqualmie Valley Record, wrote:

In a brief news segment, KLEW discusses a debate in Washington state over the upcoming inititives to be voted upon, including I-517.

Watch the video here: here

Californians value the ballot initiative and want it to remain as a check on a political system they mistrust, but voters support major reforms in the process, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California.

The poll found that voters support several changes, including giving the Legislature an opportunity to respond to proposed initiatives and reach agreement with their sponsors, beefing up financial disclosure requirements for those engaged in ballot measure campaigns, increasing the role of volunteers in collecting initiative petition signatures, and placing time limits on ballot measures so that they can be revisited.

A vital section of the Ohio Constitution, subtitled “In whom power vested,” was the focus of a federal court hearing last week in Columbus. The lawsuit before U.S. District Court dealt with the right of citizens to petition their government and with freedom of speech.

What a libertarian-leaning public interest law center aims to accomplish by filing a federal suit against a new Ohio law that restricts the referendum process goes to the heart of government of, by, and for the people. The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law — typically aligned with conservative causes — is fighting to uphold a fundamental right.