Salem, OR—Today, the Elections Division issued the official administrative rule setting the timeline for a January 23, 2018 election on Referendum 301: http://sos.oregon.gov/voting-elections/Documents/1...
An election will only be held if petitioners turn in at least 58,789 verified signatures by October 5, 2017. However, the uniquely compressed calendar for this special election requires work to begin in September.
“Two weeks ago, my office asked Oregonians for input on a draft special election timeline, and this final version incorporates feedback from members of the public, the Oregon Supreme Court, and legislative leaders,” said Secretary of State Dennis Richardson. “Oregonians rightly expect fair elections and a transparent public process.”
This revised timeline gives legislators the scheduling flexibility they requested. Several deadlines were removed after legislative leaders agreed to a public comment period of at least two weeks and that finalizing the ballot tile and explanatory statement would occur by September 22, 2017. Further, this timeline gives the Oregon Supreme Court the full five weeks they requested to consider any challenges to the ballot title, explanatory statement, or financial estimate.
Senate Bill 229 was one of the last two bills signed into law by Governor Kate Brown on August 18, 2017. The bill gives the Secretary of State broad authority to “adopt rules governing the procedure for conducting an election” (Section 61), including setting deadlines for elections processes (Section 55). Further, the bill contains an emergency clause that makes it effective immediately (Section 61), and it specifies that the process for drafting a ballot title may begin “on the date that a prospective petition to refer a measure . . . is filed with the Secretary of State” (Section 55(5)).
The Oregon Constitution requires that after the Legislature passes a tax increase, the people shall have the power to veto it through the referendum process. This referendum process enables the people to overrule the Legislature. The referendum is the “people's veto” and gives Oregonians, who can collect enough signatures within 90 days, the opportunity to have such tax increases placed on the ballot for a democratic vote. This right of referendum was adopted by the voters in 1902.