Thursday, January 10, 2008

Initiative Signature Gathering Questioned

In today's Oregonian, there's a thoughtful letter to the editor under the heading, "Sizemore should be banned" from Mark Sturbois of Southeast Portland. Mr. Sturbois points out that Mr. Sizemore has been convicted of improprieties relating to the initiative process. But even so he's back again with more bad ballot measures.

Coincidentally, the back page of the same Metro section (Oregonian Jan. 10, 2008) reports on an important ruling by Marion County Circuit Judge Dennis Graves. In that case, a number of professional petitioners challenged new laws that regulate how signatures are gathered for initiative petitions.

The regulations allow the State to enforce existing rules that ban paying signature gatherers by the signature. The professional petitioners--the Sizemores of our lives--challenged the rules and asked the judge to enjoin enforcement. Judge Graves refused to do so.

I'm not privy to the particulars, and you always have to be a little careful about news reports of cases. Still, it seems reasonable to me that the State can enforce rules that regulate signature gathering for initiatives. After all, we want a transparent process that Oregonians can trust, not one that encourages or promotes signature fraud. It seems like Judge Graves' ruling goes the right way on this important issue.

So back to Mr. Sturbois. Seems like he's got a well-founded and well-articulated beef with the Sizemore efforts. Let's hope that the latest round of rules helps cure us of this ill. While the right to petition is an important one, we're all entitled to have the petitioning process remain open and honest. So maybe some fraud-proofing will stop the cascade of lousy ideas?

David F. Sugerman
Paul & Sugerman, PC


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