Politicians want exclusive right to pack ballot measures

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon


Ordinary voters cannot start an initiative petition and proceed to stuff their ballot measure full of unrelated topics.

Politicians can’t do it either when they vote to send a measure to the ballot for voters to vote on.  Imagine, if they did.   You would have politicians putting before voters a measure to build a park for disabled people, while also tripling politicians’ salaries, legalizing prostitution and tolling city streets.  The politicians would use the favorable parts of the ballot measure to sell to voters while either hiding the rest or forcing voters to swallow bad things with good things.   How can you fit such things in a single ballot title?   Portland is trying.

Portland is in court right now saying that although voters do not have a right to pack ballot measures the City politicians do have this unique privilege because a ballot measure “referred” to voters by a City Council vote is different than a ballot measure petitioned by voters.  A ballot measure brought to you by the City is called a referral initiative, and a ballot measure brought to you by voters is just an initiative petition.   The slight language difference is what politicians are trying to use to give themselves powers to abuse the process.   Packing ballot measures is wrong because it is wrong.   Also, voter initiated ballot measures are required to go through a long arduous process of gathering tens of thousands of signatures before they can make the ballot.  Politicians can send measures to the ballot with a simple vote.   So politicians are demanding the power to abuse the process and to do it easier and faster than the ban on voters ability.

The issue at stake is Portland City Hall’s attempt to fix their City Charter.   Their fix is a combination of popular good ideas (like allowing the Mayor to control City Bureaus like all other major City governments) and bad ideas like ranked choice voting (which is an extremely controversial and bureaucratic experiment) and also includes hot topic ideas like changing politician’s salaries.   It is a hot mess.

Thank goodness there is a lawsuit to stop all of this.