RELEASE: Secretary Richardson Revises Grassroots Petitioning Rule Based on Public Comments

SALEM, OR — Today, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson announced revisions to the grassroots petitioning rule. This rule would prevent wealthy special interest groups from manipulating the initiative process through frivolous lawsuits on ballot titles designed to obstruct and delay signature gathering. Legal challenges often create delays of two to three months or even longer, which is unnecessarily burdensome for grassroots petitioners that do not have the resources to hire a signature gathering service.

Specifically, the revisions incorporate the recommendation from the League of Women Voters of Oregon that the grassroots petitioning rule be changed to allow circulation of petitions with the Attorney General’s certified ballot title during any legal challenge. The League pointed out that this process would achieve the goal of avoiding legal delays while ensuring that voters at every stage have a clear idea of what they are signing. 

“Special thanks to Norm Turrill and Becky Gladstone of the League of Women Voters of Oregon for their thoughtful improvement to ensure voters have a clear idea of what they are signing,” said Secretary Richardson. “The public comment process creates an incredibly valuable dialogue for rulemaking, and I welcome additional ideas to further improve the grassroots petitioning rule.”

Secretary Richardson welcomed public comments on election improvements in August and is reopening the public comment period for the proposed grassroots petitioning revisions to the State Initiative and Referendum Manual. The revisions are highlighted on pages 8, 17, and 34 and are included along with other unrelated changes previously noticed

Public comments can be emailed to elections.sos@oregon.gov until December 21 at 5pm or shared during the administrative rule hearing on 2018 Election Manual updates scheduled for December 18 from 2:00pm-4:00pm at the Elections Division, 255 Capitol St NE, Suite 501, Salem, OR 97310.

“This rule resolves statutory ambiguity in favor of grassroots petitioners and empowers average Oregonians by preventing powerful and wealthy special interest groups from using frivolous lawsuits to manipulate the initiative process,” said Secretary Richardson.

The original idea for the grassroots petitioning rule was identified by Independent Party of Oregon Co-Chair Dan Meek, a Portland attorney who frequently works on grassroots petitions and serves as legal representative for the Progressive Party of Oregon.