Secretary Richardson Calls on Legislature to Empower Grassroots Petitioners

By Oregon Secretary of State Press Office

Today, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson called on legislative leaders to conclusively codify into Oregon statutes two recently released administrative rules that clarify and streamline the rights of Oregon voters who use the initiative process.

The first administrative rule prevents special interests from using frivolous lawsuits to delay signature gathering by allowing grassroots petitioners to circulate petitions using the Attorney General’s certified ballot title during the appeal process. The second administrative rule enables volunteer circulators to use additional means to distribute single-signature petition sheets known as “e-sheets,” which are easier to use and have higher validity rates than multi-line petition sheets.

After a lawsuit was filed last week challenging these two election rule improvements, the Secretary chose to pause implementation to give the legislature the opportunity during next month’s legislative session to provide clearer policy direction on empowering grassroots petitioners. This will help protect petitioners and petition signers from potential uncertainty due to pending litigation and possible legislative action.

“Rather than ask a judge to discern what the legislature intended years ago, it makes sense and will save court time and taxpayer money to simply ask the legislature to provide definitive clarification during their upcoming session,” said Secretary of State Dennis Richardson. “Avoiding litigation by seeking statutory clarification not only saves taxpayer money, it enables the legislature to specifically protect Oregon voters from special interest groups that historically have sought to undermine the initiative process through costly and time-consuming litigation.”