Saturday May 18, 2013
OCTA 2012 Moves Two Steps Forward, One Step BackPaul Stanford special to Salem-News.com
The deadline is drawing nearer for the final signatures to be received by the State.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) committee has released a combination of both good news and bad news.
First, the Good:
OCTA has received the endorsement and support of Oregon's largest private sector union, the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 555, and their 18,000+ members.
On Thursday, June 14th, the UFCW Local 555's board of directors voted unanimously to endorse the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act initiative. We are working with their leadership to mobilize their membership to sign and circulate the petitions. Thank you UFCW Local 555!
With the UFCW's support, we mailed over 12,000+ letters to Oregon's most progressive voters, to people who have voted in every election for the last 4 years and that we have their phone number.
We were able to utilize the Oregon Democratic Party voter database to target people most likely to sign and return OCTA petitions. Support from UFCW has enabled us to get started with a professional phone bank, calling the 13,500 voters in these 12,000+ households to make sure they received our petitions and that they sign and mail them back right away. The phone bank will call each household three times a day over this weekend and early next week, until they reach one of our mailed petition recipients and get their response.
From May 25th through June 15th, we have gathered 30,000 more signatures on OCTA. We now have gathered 135,000 total signatures. We need 87,213 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures to turn in to the Oregon Secretary of State's office by Friday, July 6th to put OCTA on the November ballot.
Our paid petition team continues to grow and improve. A team of 4 of us went to Salem last week to learn why petitions and signatures are being rejected. Based upon this knowledge, we are now screening all petitions and all paid petitioners at their weekly turn-in to make sure that everything is properly filled out. Since a few other initiative's have concluded their petition drive, we have been able to hire other professional petition crews to gather OCTA signatures. We have new crews of experienced petitioners in several locations throughout Oregon. If you see them, please show them some love.
And now for the Bad:
Over 40 percent of our signatures that we submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division have been invalidated.
Under Oregon law, we met the Secretary of State's early submission rule by having more than the minimum 87,213 signatures needed to qualify for a vote and submitted by their May 25th deadline. That means that the state started to go through and validate the signatures submitted.
Of the 107,992 unverified OCTA signatures, 12,436 were rejected before the verification process, leaving 95,556 unverified signatures.
The vast majority of these were rejected due to circulator errors, such as not signing the circulator statement at the bottom of the sheet the way they had signed it on their state registration form, or not properly dating it, or from paid petitioners not being properly registered with the state when they were gathering signatures. We also notified the state of circulator forgeries, and several paid petitioners are being prosecuted for forgery.
From those 95,556 signatures that the Secretary of State said had been properly endorsed by the circulator, they ran a statistical sample of 5,001 signatures to determine the amount of valid signatures we turned in before May 25th.
They determined that 55,869 were found to be valid, for a validity of 58.47%.
The state found 25 duplicates in their sample of 5,001 signatures. Each duplicate found means that 400 signatures are statistically removed from the valid signature count. This removed almost 10,000 signatures from the 95,556 signatures being validated.
The state then invalidated 29,687 more signatures because either they were not registered to vote, or they had moved when they signed, or the signature did not match the one on their voter registration card. Almost half of these were invalidated due to the state saying the voter had moved.
We can litigate the state's determination of invalidity. If the state says that in the end, next month in July, that we fell short, and we know that we should have qualified if not for improperly invalidated voters, such as those ten thousands removed due to circulator error, and/or the ten-plus thousands removed because the state says that the voter had moved, then we will go to court to make sure those signatures are counted.
However, it is much better to just get more signatures and have the state say we qualified by the July 6th deadline with sufficient signatures to have OCTA put on the ballot for a vote this November.
We shall overcome. Restore hemp!
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