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Oregon Secretary Of State Extends Comment Deadline On Proposed Initiative Changes

Petition circulators could gain more time to collect signatures to qualify an initiative in Oregon.
Petition circulators could gain more time to collect signatures to qualify an initiative in Oregon.

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson is hearing from opponents and supporters of a proposed change to the state's initiative process that could help campaigns jump-start the signature gathering process.

Right now, people who want to gather signatures for an initiative have to wait for an approved ballot title. Richardson, a Republican in his first term, wants to let initiative campaigns gather signatures before the ballot title is finalized. He said special interest groups can effectively quash an initiative effort by filing what he calls "frivolous lawsuits" to delay the process.

But left-leaning groups are accusing Richardson of changing the rules to help his political supporters. Andrea Williams of the Latino-advocacy group CAUSA said the rule change would lead to misinformation.

"Without legally vetted language, signature-gatherers will be engaging voters in a conversation that's more inaccurate, more misleading and possibly more alarmist than need be," Williams said.

The Secretary of State's office will accept public comment until September 14.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.