The Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative (OMPI) today filed suit in Oregon Circuit Court against Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown in response to her office’s disqualification of tens of thousands of valid signatures on petitions for Initiative Petition 24. IP-24 is a constitutional amendment to end marijuana prohibition for adults.
The suit was filed by attorney Ross Day on behalf of Wolfe and OMPI in Marion County Circuit Court.
The OMPI lawsuit challenges a range of specific methods and reasons used by Brown’s office to disqualify individual voter signatures and entire sheets of up to 10 voter signatures each in a sampling process conducted in June, before the final deadline for signatures on petitions last week. That sampling process invalidated nearly 48% of the 122,000 signatures submitted by May 25 for IP-24, resulting in a historically low validity rate and damaging the initiative’s chance to make the ballot. Other measures submitted at the same time are suffering similarly low validation rates.
“Under the policies of Kate Brown, the Oregon Elections Division works hard to remove every possible signature from initiative petitions and for reasons that make no sense,” said Wolfe. ”Instead, they should be working to include as many signatures as possible, thus preserving citizen access to the ballot through the initiative system, as demanded by the Oregon Constitution.”
The OMPI lawsuit seeks to reopen the state’s validation work on IP-24 so that the measure can legitimately qualify the November ballot based a fair count of valid signatures from Oregon voters.
In total, including the final signature turn-in on July 6, IP-24 sponsors have submitted more than175,000 signatures to the Secretary of State, far above the 116,284 valid voter signatures required to qualify the constitutional amendment. If just 66% of the signatures were deemed valid, IP-24 would hit the November 2012 ballot. But with just 54.1% of signatures found valid in the June sampling process, IP-24 is facing an uphill battle.
“The recently developed policies of the state and of Kate Brown reduce access to the initiative process and make it the province of only the wealthiest special interests,” Wolfe said. “A win for IP-24 would help restore ballot access to all petition sponsors. It is time to shine a bright light on the undemocratic policies and actions of Oregon’s Secretary of State.”