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Oregon Bill Passes Legislature, Improves Ballot Access & Legalizes Fusion

Published on June 29, 2009, by in General.

On June 29, the Oregon State Senate passed SB 326 again, by a vote of 25-5. It had passed once before but had to get another vote because the House had altered it. The bill is now through the legislature. It repeals the 2005 “primary screenout” and it also legalizes fusion.

A “primary screenout” is a law saying primary voters can’t sign for an independent candidate.

Assuming the Governor signs the bill, Oregon will be the second state to have expanded fusion in the last two years. Connecticut also expanded fusion recently. “Fusion” is the ability of two parties to jointly nominate the same candidate.

3 Responses

  1. Dave Gillespie

    This is great news on both counts. Richard, please let us know when you get word the governor has signed.

  2. Richard, SB 326 does not enact fusion in Oregon. It only allows a candidate who is nominated by more than one party to list up to 3 such parties on the ballot next to her name. She only gets her name on the ballot once, and there is no separate counting of her votes by party. It is being called in Oregon “fusion lite.”

    There are two reasons that this bill may not go into effect:

    First, I have heard that the Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO) is urging the Governor to veto this bill. The only known organizational opponents to the fusion lite part of the bill were the teachers’ union (OEA) and the DPO.

    Second, Senator Devlin vowed on the floor of the Senate to amend the “fusion lite” part of SB 326 in the 2010 Session, before its provisions will have had a chance to be used. He said (my rough transcript): “My intention is to come back in February and address the problems with fusion lite.” He did not specify what those problems are. He mentioned the county clerks, but the Association of County Clerks testified that they could handle “fusion lite” with existing software. Knowing that his party opposed this bill, Senator Devlin’s changes in February may be significant.

  3. With characteristic modesty, Richard does not note his role in the Oregon primary screenout bill.

    He was one of only 3 people to testify before the Oregon Legislature against adoption of the primary screenout in 2005. COFOE in 2007 then filed an amicus brief in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit filed by a local activist to challenge the constitutionality of the primary screenout. The 9th Circuit adopted the COFOE position (that the activist’s lack of standing meant that the District Court had no authority to opine on the merits) and reversed the District Court decision (which had upheld the constitutionality of the screenout).

    Now, the Oregon Legislature has repealed the screenout bill he opposed in 2005. Several legislators actually apologized for having originally voted for the screenout. One said it was her worst vote during a decade of service in the Legislature.

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