PRESS RELEASE: Three former Oregon Secretaries of State urge closer review of IP 31 fraud allegations
PORTLAND — Three former Oregon Secretaries of State released a statement today urging the current Secretary of State and his administration to review whether or not Initiative Petition 31 should be certified for the November ballot. Initiative Petition 31 has been dogged by serious allegations of rampant signature gathering fraud, including a whistleblower’s firsthand account and more evidence gathered during the signature verification observation process. The potential problems include: Registered circulators attesting they witnessed sheets that they did not collect, unregistered paid gatherers circulating paid petition sheets, and shockingly high daily totals for many signature gatherers.
Despite these credible allegations, the Secretary of State’s office certified Initiative Petition 31 for the ballot last week. The office has until August 5 to study and potentially reverse that decision.
“The integrity of our elections is the cornerstone of our democracy. Oregonians need to be able to trust that the candidates and issues they are being asked to consider have made it to the ballot in a fair, honest and lawful way. As former Secretaries of State, our job was to safeguard Oregon’s democracy.
Recently, serious allegations of fraud have been brought to light regarding the signature gathering process to qualify Initiative Petition 31 for the November 2018 ballot. We trust that the Secretary of State will conduct a thorough investigation. We are concerned, however, that the Secretary has announced that they have verified and qualified the measure for the ballot even though there is an open fraud investigation.
We cannot risk any measure making it to the ballot as a result of fraudulent and illegal practices. It would weaken voters trust in the system and could impact their decision to exercise their right to participate.
The Secretary of State has the power and responsibility to enforce election laws and make sure that initiatives do not reach the ballot through fraud. In the past, we’ve used that authority to hold signature gathering campaigns accountable. When presented with allegations of fraud and abuse, we’ve taken those allegations seriously, investigated, and prevented illegally operated measures from ever reaching the ballot. We knew that taking this action was essential for ensuring that Oregonians have trust and confidence in our elections.
Even though the Secretary of State’s office has said they’ve completed verification of Initiative Petition 31, the Oregon Constitution allows until August 5th for the Secretary of State to review whether or not a measure should be certified for the ballot. The Secretary of State can complete that review even after signature verification is complete.
The content of the measure is not, nor should it be, an issue when considering a place on the Oregon Ballot. The issue is the legality of the process used to earn the right to ballot placement. That legality for IP 31 is a serious question that requires a completed investigation.
We strongly urge the Secretary to use all the rules and laws at his disposal to take the time to fully investigate the civil allegations against IP 31 before putting this measure in front of voters.”
Former Gov. Barbara Roberts (Secretary of State, 1985 – 1990)
Bill Bradbury (Secretary of State, 1999 – 2009)
Jeanne Atkins (Secretary of State, 2015 – 2017)