A Marion County Circuit Court judge ruled late Tuesday afternoon that Secretary of State Kate Brown acted appropriately in rejecting thousands of signatures that Bob Wolfe, the chief petitioner of IP-24, a marijuana legalization measure submitted earlier this year.
Brown's elections division rejected signature sheets because of duplicate signatures; illegible signatures and signatures from people not registered to vote in Oregon. Those rejections left Wolfe 24,000 signatures short of the 116,284 needed to qualify a constitutional amendment.
Early yesterday, Wolfe and his attorney, Ross Day, sought a temporary restraining order against Brown, the goal of which was to place Wolfe's measure on the November ballot.
But Judge Mary James was unpersuaded by Wolfe's argument—that Brown had failed to write administrative rules outlining the procedure for rejecting signatures.
"This claim is incorrect, both factually and legally," Judge James wrote. "The secretary has satisfied her statutory obligation to 'adopt rules establishing procedures for verifying signatures on an initiative or referendum petition.
Judge James' decision means that Brown can proceed with printing ballots for the November 6 general election. Although Wolfe's measure will not be on the ballot—he elected not to appeal—his name will be as he has decided to challenge Brown's re-election bid, joining Republican Knute Buehler, Libertarian Bruce Knight and the Pacific Green Party's Seth Woolley in the Secretary of State's race.
Updated at 2:50 pm:
Secretary of State Brown issued the following statement this afternoon:"I am pleased with the court's ruling," Brown said. "Judge Mary Merten James found Mr. Wolfe's claims that I failed to write administrative rules outlining procedures for rejecting signatures, factually and legally incorrect. "This is a clear validation of our process and Oregonians can be reassured that I am committed to cracking down on fraud and abuse in the state's initiative system. Ensuring initiatives get on the ballot legitimately is in everyone's best interest. Let's get back to business, we have an election in November."