A Marion County circuit judge today ruled in favor of the Oregon Republican Party, finding that although the electronic payment for the party's Voters' Pamphlet statement came in 29 seconds after the 5 pm deadline on Aug. 25, the statement should nonetheless be included in the booklet that is mailed to all Oregon households.
The Oregon Republican Party, through its attorney Kevin Mannix, had sued Secretary of State Bev Clarno, who oversees elections, arguing that GOP chairman Bill Currier had begun uploading the party's statement into the state filing system at 4:52 pm but that a system slowdown caused payment not to be registered before the 5 pm cutoff.
Marion County Circuit Judge Channing Bennett agreed with Mannix's argument.
"Secretary of State is ordered to publish ORP's statement in the voters' pamphlet," Bennett wrote today. "Court finds time of payment transaction is arbitrary and cannot be the bar."
"Policy statement by a major party is necessary for a free and informative election," Bennett added.
Currier applauded the ruling.
"I appreciate that the court noted that the party had completed uploading the voter pamphlet statement prior to 5 pm and that the timing of the credit card payment processing was at issue," Currier said in a statement.
"We are pleased that today's decision by the court will allow voters to compare the statements of the Republican Party with the Democrat Party side by side," said Currier. "Being able to review each party's principles and values before voting is clearly in the best interests of Oregon's voters."
Clarno said she will comply with the court's order but would like to appeal the case to get clarity on how the deadline should be interpreted.
"I have asked my team to ensure the Oregon Republican Party's statement is printed in the Voters' Pamphlet for November's General Election," Clarno said in a statement. "At the same time, I still believe 5 p.m. is 5 p.m. and we will appeal the ruling to ensure there is a bright line for filing requirements going forward. I and our Elections Division remain deeply committed to administering all of our election processes in an open, transparent, and nonpartisan manner."
It is unclear whether that appeal will happen.
"The state is reviewing the decision and considering next steps," said Michael Kron of the Oregon Department of Justice, which defended the case in court.