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Sunday, August 17, 2008
WND Distorts Oregon Court Ruling
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From an Aug. 16 WorldNetDaily article:

An appeals court ruling has trashed the right of Oregon residents to vote on issues in their state by affirming the state's refusal to count referendum signatures even when they were verified in person by the voter.


The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an Oregon judge's decision denying state citizens the right to vote on a referendum on a new state law critics contend violates the state's voter-approved definition limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

The appeals court cited the opinion of a handwriting analyst instead of the voters who signed the petition and called the state's "interests" more important than voters' rights.


The district court at that point simply ruled that Oregon voters have no legal right to have their signatures counted, and the appeals court has upheld the ruling.

The court, of course, denied nobody's rights; it merely affirmed that the method for checking signatures on a conservative-promoted Oregon petition to place on the ballot a reversal of the state's recognition of same-sex couples was valid.

WND quotes only right-wing groups criticizing the ruling, such as Alliance Defense Fund and Restore America, and offers its own creatively biased view of the case:

The state reviewed the tens of thousands of signatures submitted on the referendum issue by a sampling method, ultimately determining there were 55,083 valid signatures, 96 short of what was required. However, a change in just a half a dozen signatures in the sampled portion would have tipped the decision the other way.

At the time the state made that announcement, individual voters checked with their local county officials and found their valid signatures had been arbitrarily disallowed, and state officials had issued orders that county election offices not allow anyone to correct the mistakes.


The court opinion, instead of citing the voters who signed the petition on the issue of the validity of their signatures, cited a handwriting analysts' opinion on whether the signatures were valid or not.

The San Francisco Chronicle, meanwhile, offers a clearer, more truthful view of what actually happened:

Needing 55,179 valid signatures, sponsors of the referendum turned in 62,000 signatures on petitions to election officials, who followed standard procedures by examining a random sample. After invalidating signatures that didn't match those on registration cards, they concluded that only 55,083 valid signatures had been submitted.

The judge upheld the signature-counting process on Feb. 1 and was affirmed Thursday by a three-judge appeals court panel, which said Oregon took reasonable measures to validate petition signatures.

Sponsors of the referendum argued that election officials should have notified voters whose signatures were rejected and given them a chance to prove their identity. But the court said county registrars are trained in signature verification, allow sponsors of a ballot measure to attend the counting sessions and challenge their decisions, and refer all rejected signatures to a second elections official for added scrutiny.

The question was never about "rights" as WND repeatedly claims. The court did not eliminate or even question the right of voters to intiate ballot referendums -- indeed, WND states "the campaign on the recognition of same-sex relationships now will be restarted with plans for voter decisions on the issues in November 2010." The issue at hand was whether Oregon state law on ballot signature verification was followed and was reasonable. The court ruled that it was.

Given that state law "allow[s] sponsors of a ballot measure to attend the counting sessions and challenge their decisions," WND does not explain why those sponsors did not challenge the disqualification of the signatures at the time.

It's just another example of WND's anti-gay agenda at work.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:09 PM EDT

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