This week on my show, I was interviewing Robert Wolfe, the chief petitioner of the constitutional amendment in Oregon to legalize marijuana. He pointed out that the Secretary of State’s office had disqualified so many signatures turned in by both his campaign and the OCTA campaign, the statutory petition to legalize marijuana in Oregon, that they had seen “historic lows” in validity rate.
I crunched the numbers in an earlier post and found both initiatives had ended up with a “turn-in validity” of around 52%. Wolfe claimed that 65% was the mark that was to be expected and that the disenfranchisement of so many signatures was suspect enough that he’s looking to take the issue to court. I asked if this was a phenomenon affecting just marijuana petitions this year, since there was a 2010 petition to vote on medical marijuana dispensaries that made the ballot under similar rules, or if this was unfair scrutiny against marijuana in general. Specifically, I wondered, had any other initiatives been checked for validity and what are their rates?
“Protect Our Homes” is an initiative petition – I-5 to be precise – that has qualified for the November 2012 ballot. It, like the Wolfe initiative, is a constitutional amendment, requiring 116,284 signatures to make the ballot. It tackles a topic of such grand importance that it must be enshrined in our state constitution, for it shall “prohibit real estate transfer taxes, fees, other assessments, except those operative on December 31, 2009.”
On May 24, it turned in 163,278 unverified signatures, of which 76.7% were declared valid, for a total of 122,342 valid signatures. So we’ll be voting on the prohibition of real estate transfer taxes, but probably not on the end of marijuana prohibition.
Just for the record, the Oregon Constitutional Amendment to prohibit the recognition of equal marriage rights for all people needed 100,840 signatures to qualify for the 2004 ballot. It turned in 244,587. It qualified for the ballot and it passed, to our shame. So apparently we can pass the prohibition of gay rights in our Constitution, but not the end of marijuana prohibition.