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Oregon GOP Goes To Court Over Voters’ Pamphlet Deadline The State Says It Missed By 29 Seconds

Oregon voters must return their primary ballots by May 17.
Kevin Mooney
Northwest News Network

The Oregon Secretary of State's office says the Oregon Republican Party won't get its official argument to voters in the state Voters' Guide because the party just missed the deadline.

This might be the closest deadline miss in Oregon political history. State officials say the Oregon Republican Party’s statement for the state voters’ pamphlet arrived 29 seconds too late and won’t appear in the guide mailed to voters for the November election.

“We have to apply deadlines equally for everyone,” Laura Fosmire, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bev Clarno, said in a statement. “Anyone wishing to submit information to the Voters’ Pamphlet has several weeks to do so and we recommend avoiding waiting until the last minute for this reason.”

Kevin Hoar, the communications director for the state GOP, insisted that the party did get its statement into an online filing system by 4:59 p.m. on Aug. 25, the final day for filing. He said the party filed a lawsuit in Marion County demanding that the statement be included in the voters’ guide before it goes to print later this month.

“We can’t quite explain the interpretation and decision here” by state elections officials, Hoar said. “That’s why we’ve gone to court.”

In a statement, state Republican Chairman Bill Currier said the failure to include his party’s statement from the voting guide “reeks of partisan discrimination.”

He added, “If a bureaucrat in some decision-making role simply didn’t like what our statement said, this doesn’t give them the right to silence us.”

Hoar also said that Currier was locked out of the online filing system for several hours, delaying the party’s ability to file its statement.

Fosmire countered that there were “no problems or glitches” with the online reporting system. “[W]e simply received the statement after the filing deadline,” she said.

Ironically, Clarno, the secretary of state, is the only Oregon Republican in statewide office. A former Oregon House speaker from Deschutes County, she was appointed to the job by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown to serve the rest of the term after Secretary of State Dennis Richardson died in 2019.

Each of the eight political parties who nominate candidates in Oregon’s general election is allowed to file a statement promoting its principles and explaining why its candidates should be elected. The statement submitted by the Republican Party was headlined “Had enough? Vote Republican!” It attacked Democratic leadership in Oregon on issues ranging from “Unrestrained rioting” in Portland to mismanagement of the pandemic resulting in “catastrophic small business losses.”

The Democratic Party of Oregon and six other political parties are included in the voters’ pamphletfor the Nov. 3 election.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Jeff Mapes is a senior political reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, Jeff covered state and national politics for The Oregonian for nearly 32 years. He has covered numerous presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and ballot measure campaigns, as well as many sessions of the Legislature, stretching back to 1985. Jeff graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in journalism.