Seth Woolley's Blog

Occasional Musings

kate brown has lost the plot on voter suppression and ballot access(0)

Kate Brown seems to be thoroughly confused yet again. In her latest email blast, she makes some very unfortunate claims against the Republican, who I normally wouldn't defend, but the claims are so backwards something must be said to point out that she's the actual problem. She led off with this:

"As reported in the Oregonian, we now know that Republican Knute Buehler supports the movement to restrict ballot access that is gaining momentum in states across the country."

Buehler, as a former member of a third party, has actually supported making it easier for parties and candidates to get *ballot access*, something completely different from *poll access*. Ballot access is the ability of individuals to become named on the ballot. Kate Brown, on the other hand has illegally overinterpreted the ballot access laws in contravention of long-standing precedent so much so that she stated an intent to kick the Pacific Green Party entirely off the ballot by August 8th. I filed suit against her in Marion County Circuit Court to get the courts to tell her how the law should be interpreted, but the defense (the state) has oddly failed to reply in time as a possible delay tactic. Knowing full well the history of Democrats against ballot access going back many Secretaries of State, we knew we couldn't wait for the courts, so we coordinated a massive registration drive to make sure we were safe from being completely kicked off the ballot. The registration drive went better than we expected and we well overshot the numbers we needed in just a few months.

It cost us significant amounts of money we have very little of though, so please consider donating at and

Brown goes on to explain:

"If Buehler wins, he will support efforts that make it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote. / Sign my petition right now and let’s tell Knute Buehler not to bring extreme voter I.D. laws to Oregon."

I've been to one of Buehler's "idea raisers" where the community asked for various ways of suppressing the Democratic vote. Knute was surprisingly moderate, rejecting the most extreme suggestions (like wiping the registration rolls clean and starting from scratch) out of hand. He also pointed out that voter fraud in Oregon was exceedingly rare and that we already have signature checks. That makes the next claim even more odd:

"Buehler has echoed false statements about fraud in elections and made it clear that he would support plans to disenfranchise Oregon voters."

Without a direct quote, it's surprising that such a claim can be made. Here's the Oregonian's voter guide on voter fraud in full:

"We can definitely do a better job defending against voter fraud. As I’ve traveled around the state it is clear that many people have concerns about the security of our vote by mail system. Many of the concerns I hear can easily be fixed – and should have been fixed by now. It’s inexcusable to have ambiguous election law language that seems, at least by some, to be open to interpretation. In my first year as Secretary of State, I would conduct a thorough audit of our vote by mail system and lead the legislature to clean up any issues that the audit finds so all Oregonians have the confidence their elections are administered fairly, openly and without fraud or partisan manipulation."

There's nothing about voter ID here. He didn't even claim voter fraud happens, but that we can do a better job protecting against it. He's probably referring to the fact that ballots were left not destroyed after election day as they are supposed to be by statute, where Brown says that other rules contradict it. Cleaning up ambiguity does make some sense. About this issue, Knute Buehler himself has written a blog post where he calls her claim an outright lie and says we already have voter ID through our existing requirement to sign our ballot:\

Maybe he was more moderate when I was in the room and on the voter guide and in public posts, but let's see who is making the more serious claims about voter fraud. That's right, Kate Brown has been claiming there is widespread voter fraud in initiative petitions so she can clamp down in the initiative process, where she feels she can throw out almost half of all signatures in statewide petitions and apply exorbitant and absurd fines based on no actual evidence aside from claims from a couple perhaps disgruntled employees (out of hundreds). Every chief petitioner pays hourly in this state, not by the signature, because the fines are absurdly high. Why would Bob Wolfe risk an eight figure fine by paying per signature? It doesn't pass the smell test. He was given a proposed fine without even talking to him about it first. She sent the press release out without Bob knowing it was even out. Now even Bob is running against her as the nominee of the Progressive Party, to debate her directly on these issues. Democracy needs serious, consistent, and good faith administration but Brown wants to play hardball against it. And to be precise, paying per signature, even if were true, wouldn't be fraud, it would be criminal, but not fraud. Her actions seem to conflate the two issues.

But back to the real issue of voter suppression that she was trying to bring up. We have to remember that voter suppression includes the petitioning process, not just registration. Brown claimed her election in 2008 gave her a mandate to restrict the initiative process and "clamp down on fraud". Fraud that they already had major penalties for. Who was spreading FUD about voter fraud? That's right, she was, and is.

On a related matter of actual election fraud, I filed a claim of voter fraud and she simply ignored the contents of the claim. You might remember that situation with Charlie Hales:

That's a situation of actual voter fraud.

She added, "I’m running for Secretary of State because I am thoroughly opposed to the war on voting that is happening around the country."

Speaking of a war on voting, I think throwing out 48% of the signatures out of a couple hundred thousand petition signatures is a war on voting. Signing a petition is a right that is fundamental to the voting process. The technicalities she uses to throw petitions out have very little to do with actual voter intent anymore. Forget to use a staple, use a paper clip instead? All thrown out. Correct a date with an initial? All thrown out. There are many more examples. Bob Wolfe got testimony from many who had their signatures thrown out as invalid attesting that they in fact did sign the petition. Calling signatures invalid without cause is like throwing out a completed ballot without cause. Shouldn't your petition signature count? Ask yourself what kind of government do we have when your petition for a redress of grievances doesn't count?

She even asked, "Please join me: Sign my petition..."

Ironic that now she likes the idea of petitioning just after the petitioning period ended this week and she set new records for rejecting signatures with completely arbitrary rules and last-minute rule changes -- such as deciding that signatures have to be turned in to a new date two full weeks before the statutory deadline or they can't promise to count them in time -- they interpret the final deadline as applying to how fast they can validate signatures, too.

I wonder how Kate Brown expects to win this election with confused appeals screwing up two issues at once -- ballot access and voter suppression -- where she and her actions are the real problem?

Seth Woolley's Blog

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