The initiative system is a source of power and pride for Oregonians. Yet, some have abused the system.
Robert Eisinger summed it up: “Let’s admit that our initiative system has not improved with time. Unlike a Willamette Valley pinot noir that smells and tastes better with age, today’s Oregon politics all too often stink.”
In order to keep power into the peoples’ hands while eliminating fraud, initiative reform was – and remains – necessary.
In 2002, Oregon voters passed Measure 26, The Initiative Integrity Act. This act:
• Prohibited paying signature gatherers on a per-signature basis. The goal was to eliminate forgery, committed by petition circulators desperate to make their paycheck.
In 2007, the Oregon Legislature passed The Initiative Reform and Modernization Act. This Act:
• Barred convicted identity thieves and forgers from working as paid signature gatherers
• Required campaigns to maintain adequate and timely payroll records to demonstrate compliance with the 2002 ban on payment-per-signatures
• Established a registration program for paid signature gatherers, providing training and picture identification to circulators, in order to provide transparency and protect voters.
Unfortunately, some initiative petitioners will continue to try to find ways around the law. Protecting the initiative system will require ongoing investigation, enforcement, and reforms by state leaders.