Fusion Voting in Oregon (Update II)

Ballot Access News reports: "On July 22, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongowski signed SB 326, the bill that eliminates the “primary screenout” for independent candidate petitions, and also legalizes fusion." Oregon's Salem News has the details and background:

(SALEM, Ore.) - Senator Rick Metsger (D-Welches) said today, “A major injustice has been rectified.” Metsger is the chief sponsor and advocate for Senate Bill 326 which the Governor signed into law today. SB 326 ensures that every voter, no matter their political party, has equal access to the ballot box, or to stand for election, by repealing a previous statute which discriminated against over 430,000 Oregon voters who do not belong to a political party . . .

SB 326 repeals a law created in 2005 by HB 2614, which effectively discriminated against unaffiliated candidates by limiting their ability to run for office or sign a petition for others who wish to run for office. According to HB 2614, a voter was prohibited from signing a petition for a nonaffiliated candidate if they voted in the primary election, even if they did not vote for the office that was the subject of the petition. It also made it all but impossible for a nonaffiliated candidate to run for office because the signature threshold was too high to be reasonably achieved by a potential candidate . . . With the implementation of SB 326, a voter now has the ability to participate in the nomination of candidates outside of the two major parties while still retaining their right and ability to vote upon all issues in the primary election.

Metsger made the repeal of the 2005 law a primary objective of his candidacy for Oregon Secretary of State in 2008. Despite the pressure from the political establishment, Metsger was pleased to successfully push the repeal in the final week of the legislative session.

This is a major legislative victory for the Independent Party of Oregon, the Oregon Working Families Party, the National Open Ballot Project and State Senator Rick Metsger, who faced an uphill battle in pushing for the bill's passage.

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