June 3rd, 2010 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Environment

Elections Officials Rejected Thousands of Signatures in Lottery Dollar Campaign

One of the biggest bucks ballot measures aimed at the November ballot in Oregon is Initiative Petition 70.

The measure would enshrine in the state Constitution the 15 percent allocation of Oregon Lottery proceeds to parks and natural areas.

That 15-percent set-aside has been in effect for more than a decade, thanks to voter approval of a 1998 ballot measure. But the set-aside will expire in 2014, unless Oregonians vote to continue it.

The initiative's main proponent — Oregonians for Water, Parks and Wildlife — has raised $823,000 so far, most of it from the Nature Conservancy. (The group also has spent $776,000, including $388,000 on PCI Consultants, a California signature-gathering company).

In mid-April, when proponents went to turn in their first batch of signatures to the Secretary of State's elections division, they got a nasty surprise. Of the 31,128 signatures presented, elections officials rejected 12,596 — or about 40 percent — because the forms that signature gatherers used were improperly printed.

Secretary of State Kate Brown's spokesman, Don Hamilton, says a printing malfunction omitted both form numbers and some boilerplate language from signature sheets.

"What happened is the printing plate shifted and cut off a section of the wording," Hamilton says. "Unfortunately, they shouldn't have used those sheets in the first place."
Made in Oregon lottery.jpg

On its website, the Oregonians for Water, Parks and Wildlife says it hopes to gather 160,000 signatures by the July 2 deadline. That total would provide a comfortable margin above the 110,358 valid signatures required to amend the state Constitution. Through May (and after the disallowed signatures were eliminated) the group has turned in 50,243, less than one-third of its goal.

If the group does gather 160,000 signatures, it will spend more than $5 per signature even if it doesn't raise another dime. That means the printer's error cost in the neighborhood of $60,000.

Jessica Moskovitz, a spokeswoman for the campaign, says 2,000 volunteers mobilized for the ballot measure will work hard to make up for the disqualified signatures.

"Clean water is a focus of the campaign," Moskovitz says. "So we know that into every life a little rain must fall."
 
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