KATU 2 News - Portland, Oregon
August 20, 2004
But Greg Kafoury, Nader's point person in Oregon, said the campaign wants to collect at least 6,000 more names by Tuesday's deadline because they expect a significant portion of the signatures to be disqualified.
"We'll lose about a third of that, which is normal. People think they're registered, but they've moved and if their address does not match their name the signature is no good," Kafoury said.
Nader, the 70-year-old consumer activist, is making a last-ditch effort to qualify for the ballot in Oregon, a state that was once a stronghold for him.
To date, he has failed in two separate attempts to collect the 1,000 signatures during an assembly of voters - one of the methods the state offers to independent candidates who want to qualify for a presidential ballot.
His campaign is now trying to gather 15,000 signatures statewide, which will have to be verified by each county in which they are collected.
But union representatives supporting Kerry called the figure highly unrealistic.
"I think they're being very optimistic. If county clerks do their job, the error rate will be far higher than that," said Mark Wiener, a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union.
Earlier this week, Wiener's union filed an election complaint with the state alleging that the Nader campaign is falsifying signatures.
The union is fact-checking random Nader petitions, and says that in a check of 534 signatures, they found that 162 of the residences did not physically exist, 117 people were either deceased or no longer lived at the address given and 66 said they did not sign the petition.
"You put that all together, we have 35 percent who reported signing the petition and which are correct and which withstood some scrutiny. But 65 percent showed some evidence of fraud," said Wiener.
Kafoury maintains that the earlier attempts, as well as the current signature drive, have been sabotaged by "Democratic operatives" who don't want to see Nader on the ballot.
In 2000, Vice President Al Gore won Oregon by just a few thousand votes, and supporters of Democratic candidate John Kerry feel that Nader's presence on the ballot could help tip the state's support to President Bush this time around.
Polls have showed Kerry with a slight lead over Bush so far, with Nader pulling in just a few percent of voters.