HB 2082 passed the Oregon House last evening. It represented a bad day for people’s constitutional rights to circulate petitions. The Bill’s carrier said on the floor that this bill “would make it easier” to circulate petitions and noted that petitions would no longer have to sort petitions by 36 counties. The bill instead requires one to sort petitions by 20,000 different circulator names. How sorting by 20,000 names versus 36 counties makes it easier is beyond explanation.
Rep. Lim opposed the bill and highlighted the problem of forcing paid circulators to register. Lim noted that if a paid circulator makes an error then the legitimate names on the petition get cancelled for the circulator’s fault. This is a major thrust of the entire bill — disqualify signatures for not meeting the newly invented rules. If a petition campaign fails to respond to a payroll information request on time, then all petitions must stop and any name gathered by a volunteer anywhere in the state is likely disqualified at that time. If you fail to sort names properly, legitimate signatures get disqualified. If a paid circulator registers with the state 99 different times for 99 different petitions but accidentally collects signatures for petition #100, that too may itself disqualify signatures.
If people make mistakes, then the state should target those people and that campaign, and not begin wholesale erasing of people’s signatures. If Marion County Elections failed to pay an employee mimimum wage while counting ballots, would all the votes that person counted be eliminated? Of course not. HB 2082 looks like it was designed to eliminate signatures, more than eliminating problems. The fact that HB 2082 makes reporting requirements MORE strict for pro-petition PAC campaigns than for anti-petition PAC campaigns (which are the exact same structure) is another signal that the bill is aimed at stopping petitions, and not stopping problems.
Special thanks to Rep. Girod, Rep. Thatcher, Rep. Lim, and Rep. Krummel for their constructive floor speeches and inquires on this bill.