February 18th, 2010 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Legislature

Oregon Senate Votes to Crack Down on "Imitation" Ballots


During the contentious campaign in Oregon over Measures 66 and 67, "No" campaign manager Mark Nelson's practice of sending out mock ballots drew fire from the measures' supporters.

Backers of Measures 66 and 67 questioned whether Nelson's mass-mailing of such ballots to more than 100,000 voters were an attempt to suppress the vote by tricking people into thinking they'd already voted when the official ballots arrived; Nelson, for his part, noted that he'd long used mock ballots as a means of tracking voters' thinking. (Whatever the ballots' purpose, both measures passed on Jan. 26 by wide margins.)

The Secretary of State's elections division rejected a complaint against Nelson for the practice. But Secretary of State Kate Brown then asked lawmakers to make it easier for voters to distinguish such ballots from real ballots.

Legislation intended to do just that, Senate Bill 1062, passed the Senate today 27-2. The measure will now go to the House for consideration.

Here's a statement from Brown's office:
Senate Bill 1062, introduced at Brown's request, requires stronger notice that an
imitation ballot is not official, sets a minimum 36-point font size for the disclaimer and
imposes tougher penalties to deter violations.

“We cannot have any uncertainty about when a ballot is fake and when it's official,”
Brown said after the vote Thursday. “This bi-partisan vote sends a strong message that
we must prevent any possibility of misunderstanding. The law has been insufficient and
this vote takes a huge step toward avoiding the possibility of confusion.”

The bill now will be considered by the Oregon House.

Brown, the state's chief elections officer, won her first race by seven votes.

“Confusion by even one voter over where to send a ballot,” she said, “is one voter too
many. Every vote matters.”
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