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Buehler v. Rosenblum

Supreme Court of Oregon, En Banc

October 3, 2013

Knute BUEHLER and Duane Ray Fletchall, Petitioners,
v.
Ellen ROSENBLUM, Attorney General, State of Oregon, Respondent.

Page 883

Kevin L. Mannix, Kevin L. Mannix PC, Salem, filed the petition and reply memorandum for petitioners.

Laura S. Anderson, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, filed the answering memorandum for respondent. With her on the answering memorandum were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General.

Daniel W. Meek, Portland, filed an amicus brief in support of Certified Ballot Title for Initiative Petition 11 (2014).

Margaret S. Olney, Portland, filed an amicus brief in support of Certified Ballot Title for Initiative Petition 11 (2014) on behalf of Gail Rasmussen, BethAnne Dabry and Patrick Green.

BREWER, J.

[354 Or. 320] Two petitioners seek review of the Attorney General's certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 11 (2014). See ORS 250.085(2) (specifying requirements for seeking review of certified ballot titles). We also have received briefs from amici curiae Rasmussen, Darby, and Green in support of the

Page 884

certified ballot title, and amicus Meek in opposition to it. Among them, petitioners and Meek advance a host of arguments asserting various inadequacies of the ballot title. We review the ballot title to determine whether it substantially complies with ORS 250.035(2). See ORS 250.085(5) (stating standard of review). For the reasons explained below, we refer the ballot title to the Attorney General for modification.

Initiative Petition 11, if approved by the voters, would enact the " Our Oregon Signatures Count Act." In general, the proposed ballot measure would give registered voters " who ha[ve] committed no violation of law" a statutory right— enforceable in the courts— to have their signatures counted on a petition for an initiative, a referendum, a candidate nomination, formation of a political party, or a recall. In carrying out that objective, the measure includes provisions related to signature gathering, voter registration, and ballot titles for such petitions. Initiative Petition 11 provides, in part:

" Section 3. Laws and regulations may be enacted and enforced to prevent forgery or fraud, and to maintain an orderly process in the circulation of a petition. However, such laws and regulations shall not be enforced in any manner so as to prevent the petition signature of a registered voter, who has committed no violation of law, from being included in the determination whether the petition contains the required number of signatures of voters.
" Section 4. Notwithstanding ORS 250.042, the Secretary of State and elections officers may not disqualify a signature on a petition based on the failure of a circulator to comply with a law governing the circulation of petitions unless the secretary or elections officer determines that the circulator's failure was the result of a knowing and willful violation of law.
" * * * * *
[354 Or. 321] " Section 10. Except as required by the constitution of this state, laws governing ballot titles for petitions and ballot measures do not apply to petitions and ballot measures by citizen initiative that contain 100 words or fewer of text (excluding the enacting or amendatory clause).
" Section 11. Any ballot measure by citizen initiative that contains 100 words or fewer of text (excluding the enacting or amendatory clause) shall have the full text of the measure presented on the ballot immediately after the measure number and the enacting or amendatory clause. The full text of the proposed measure shall be printed on any petition sheet instead of any ballot title.
" Section 12. If a registered voter signs a petition, and the voter is deemed to be an inactive registered voter, the act of placing his or her signature on a petition shall constitute the immediate re-activation of the voter's registration at the address indicated by the voter on ...

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