Oregon's Ballot Under Criticism (FWD)

Bart Ingles bartman at netgate.net
Sat Oct 3 12:16:58 PDT 1998

I note that according to the following article, it is too easy to get an
initiative on the ballot with petition requirements of "6 to 8 percent
of the voter turnout".  This shows why petition requirements alone
cannot be relied on to prevent weak or unknown candidates from winning
an election whenever the other factions are evenly balanced.  Favoring a
compromise is fine up to a point, but not when it means giving the
election to an unknown who was able to buy his way onto the ballot.

DEMOREP1 at aol.com wrote:
> Since ballot access for issues is relatively easy in Oregon, then election
> reform methods should be done in Oregon.
> ---------
> Oregon's Ballot Under Criticism
> .c The Associated Press
> PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- It's so easy for Oregon voters to put ballot questions
> before the public that political scientists are beginning to wonder if
> democracy has gotten out of hand.
> Take this year: There are 14 proposals to be decided in Oregon, more than any
> other state.
> If they all pass -- which is unlikely -- they could eventually bankrupt the
> state, Oregon State University political scientist William Lunch said.
> One measure before voters in November -- whether to increase sentences for
> property crimes -- would cost an estimated $1.2 billion over the next decade.
> A voter-approved measure in 1994 forced a $1 billion funding plan for new
> prisons.
> If voters repeatedly approve costly measures like these, Lunch said, the
> state's general fund, now at $9.6 billion, will run out of money. He predicted
> that eventually, courts will have to step in.
> ``Many people think they are doing a good thing without realizing the
> financial impacts,'' said Jim Westwood, a Portland lawyer.
> This year's proposals range from medical marijuana to cracking down on car
> thieves.
> Proponents contend that it's a healthy way to air concerns and jump-start
> change.
> ``If legislators think they have better ideas, they ought to implement them,''
> said Kevin Mannix, who has written several state initiatives.
> Getting a measure onto the ballot requires signatures from 6 percent to 8
> percent of the voter turnout of the last election, one of the lowest
> thresholds in the country. By comparison, Arizona requires 25 percent.
> In recent years, petition supporters have hired professionals to collect
> signatures, a practice the state Supreme Court upheld. But that means that
> $100,000, spent properly, practically guarantees a spot on the ballot, Lunch
> said.
> ``Any notion that this is the public at large rising up with wrath at an
> unresponsive legislature is simply fanciful,'' Lunch said. ``What we have here
> is interest-group politics at work.''
> This year, educators are worried about a proposal would require the state to
> set aside 15 percent of lottery revenue for salmon stream restoration and
> upkeep of parks. Now, most of the lottery money goes to schools.
> ``We absolutely need to keep up our state parks, but not at the expense of
> schoolchildren,'' said Jim Sager, president of the Oregon Education
> Association.
> Critics of the state's initiative system take some solace in the knowledge
> that about two-thirds of all ballot proposals fail.
> AP-NY-10-03-98 0108EDT

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