EUGENE, Ore. — Some Oregon activists are pushing for the state to implement a system that would allow voter signatures to be gathered electronically for initiative petitions.

A grass-roots effort is calling for petitions to be signed online so more initiatives can bypass the Legislature and go directly before voters, The Register-Guard reported (http://bit.ly/2xKAyXI ) on Wednesday.

Under the current initiative process, backers of proposed public policies are required to collect a set number of physical signatures with pen and paper in order to get a measure qualified for the ballot. Many successful initiatives typically involve financial backing to pay for people to gather signatures.

Of the 415 initiative petitions filed since November 2006, 27 have qualified to go before voters.

David Carlson, the chief petitioner for the proposal, said a system that allows online signing would enable more initiatives without major financial backing to qualify. It would also make the process more convenient for voters, he said.

“We live in 2017. The internet is available and accessible to almost all Oregonians,” Carlson said. “People do everything online.”

Under the proposal, voters would sign petitions on a state website administered by the secretary of state. Voters’ identities would be verified though a Social Security number or an Oregon driver’s license number.

Our Oregon, the advocacy group backed by public employee unions, has opposed the proposal and filed challenges to the attorney general and the Oregon Supreme Court.

Our Oregon spokeswoman Katherine Driessen said that the proposal is not the right way to update the system and that it’s problematic to have the partisan secretary of state administer it.

Carlson said that from a meeting he had with officials from the group, they expressed concerns that the proposal would make it easier for conservative backed initiatives to qualify for the ballot.

“If a lot of these (right-wing) causes got on the ballot, they’d lose by 10 or 15 (percentage) points,” Carlson said. “We have a fairly informed, more liberal voter base here.”


Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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