Multnomah County Elections Director Tim Scott this afternoon rejected a complaint filed yesterday against mayoral candidate Charlie Hales.
That complaint alleged Hales was not a legally registered Oregon voter when he filed to run for mayor.
Here's Scott's response the complainant, Seth Woolley:
Mr. Woolley,Woolley says Hales appears to be trying to have it both ways: he is claiming that he was a Washington resident from 2004 through 2009 for tax purposes (Washington has no income tax) but claiming he was only "temporarily away," for voting purposes.
I have reviewed your letter of April 17, 2012, in which you request an investigation by my office into the validity of Charles Hales’ voter registration. Of the questions you have raised there are two that I believe I am legally obligated to address. First is whether or not Charles Hales is currently qualified to be a registered voter in Multnomah County, Oregon based on residency requirements set forth in ORS 247.035 (3).
Second, whether or not Charles Hales was qualified to be a registered voter and vote in Oregon when he lived in Washington State based on ORS 247.035 (1) and (2). To address the issue of Mr. Hales’ current residency, ORS 247.035 (3) states: An elections official may consider, but is not limited to considering, the following factors in determining residency of a person for voter registration purposes: (a) Where the person receives personal mail; (b) Where the person is licensed to drive; (c) Where the person registers motor vehicles for personal use; (d) Where any immediate family members of the person reside; (e) The address from which the person pays for utility services; and (f) The address from which the person files any federal or state income tax returns. [Formerly 250.410; 1995 c.214 §1]
On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, I spoke with Mr. Hales. He stated that he considers his current residence to be 7136 SE 27th Ave, Portland. This is the same address that is listed on his current voter registration card. He stated that this is where he receives mail. He also stated that this is the address shown on his Oregon driver’s license and where his and his wife’s cars are registered, which I have confirmed with Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. Finally, this is the address where his wife lives, and the address from which he files federal and state income tax returns.
I believe that Mr. Hales has met the burden of residency for the purposes of voter registration.
To address the second question of whether Charles Hales was eligible to be registered to vote in Multnomah County when he lived in Washington State, ORS 247.035 (1) (a) states: The person’s residence shall be the place in which habitation is fixed and to which, when the person is absent, the person intends to return. In the same interview of April 18, 2012, I asked Mr. Hales if, during the time he lived in Washington State, he considered his Oregon residence address the place to which his habitation was fixed, and whether or not he intended to return.
He said that during that time he considered himself to be temporarily away and that he always intended to return to his Oregon residence. Additionally, ORS 247.035 (2) states: Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, a person who has left the place of the person’s residence for a temporary purpose only, who has not established another residence for voter registration purposes and who does not have a place in which habitation is fixed shall not be considered to have changed or lost residence.
The person may register at the address of the place the person’s residence was located before the person left. Mr. Hales stated that he had never been registered to vote in the State of Washington, and I was able to confirm with the Washington Secretary of State’s Office that Mr. Hales has never been registered to vote in the State of Washington.
Based on Mr. Hales’ answer that he considered himself to be temporarily away from Oregon and that the Washington Secretary of State’s office confirmed that he has never been registered to vote in Washington State, I have concluded that, based upon the statutes cited above, Mr. Hales was eligible to be registered to vote and to vote in Oregon during the time he lived in Washington State.
Please let me know if you have any questions concerning the information contained herein.
Sincerely, Tim Scott, Director Multnomah County Elections
Dear Mr. Scott:
The decision letter of the Multnomah County Elections Division, issued with less than a single day of consideration, is quite wrong on the law.
First, it considers Mr. Hales's "current residency," which is irrelevant to the Complaint. What matters is what his residency was at the time he registered to vote, which was March 18, 2008. So the decision letter examines the wrong question.
Second, your letter fails to cite or discuss the primarily applicable statute, ORS 247.035(1). Instead, you refer only to a statute, ORS 247.035(3), that applies only where a person's residence is not clear under ORS 247.035(1)
Third, Mr. Hales' current contention that he "considered himself to be temporarily away and that he always intended to return to his Oregon residence" is flatly and entirely contradicted by his sworn statements to the State of Oregon on his Oregon nonresident's income tax returns filed for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 that he was not a resident of Oregon. As shown in the Complaint, that necessarily means he was swearing that his that his "true, fixed, permanent home" was not in Oregon.
Fourth, your use of ORS 247.035(2) is egregiously incorrect for two separate reasons. The first reason is because that law requires that the person "not have a place in which habitation is fixed." Mr. Hales certainly had such a place; he was not a vagrant or a traveling salesperson or a soldier living in various military barracks.
At the time he last registered to vote in Oregon, he swore to the State of Oregon that his fixed habitation was his home in Washington. In addition, even your decision letter itself (p. 1) states that he had "a place in which habitation is fixed." Consequently, ORS 247.035(2) is clearly inapplicable to Mr. Hales.
The second reason is that, ORS 247.035(2), if applicable, allows the person to "register at the address of the place the person's residence was located before the person left." Mr. Hales did not do that. His Oregon residence "before he left" in 2004 was on Hayden Island. On March 18, 2008, he registered at 7136 S.E. 27th Avenue in Portland, which is clearly not where "the person's residence was located before the person left."
Finally, if Mr. Hales was only "temporarily away from Oregon," then he falsely swore to the State of Oregon at least 6 times on his "nonresident" Oregon income tax returns that he was not a resident of Oregon. Consequently, I ask that you reconsider your very hasty, and wrong, decision.
Sincerely, Seth Woolley
Dear Mr. Woolley, I am writing in response to your complaint received by my office on April 17th, 2012. You alleged that Charlie Hales, a candidate for Office of Mayor in the May 2012 Primary Election, does not meet the candidate qualifications as stated in Portland City Code (2.08.050) and City Charter Section 2-202. In combination, these sections of code and charter require that an eligible elector filing for city office must be a registered voter in the City of Portland.
Pursuant to Oregon statute, county elections officials make the determination of whether a person is a registered voter. Therefore, whenever a candidate files for office, the City Elections Officer verifies with the appropriate county elections officer that the candidate is indeed a registered voter. That procedure was followed when Charlie Hales filed his candidacy for Mayor with our office. At the time of Mr. Hales’ filing, Multnomah County reported that he was a registered voter in the City of Portland.
In response to your complaint, the Multnomah County Elections Officer again confirmed that Mr. Hales is, and was at the time of filing for office, an eligible City of Portland registered voter. Therefore, after consulting with Oregon Secretary of State’s Election Division and the City of Portland’s Attorney’s Office and reviewing the information provided by the Multnomah County Elections Division, I have determined that Mr. Hales meets the registered voter requirement of City Code Section 2.08.050 and have no basis for rejecting Charlie Hales’ filing of candidacy.
Sincerely, LaVonne Griffin-Valade, Portland City Auditor