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government selection 2004

Judge to decide Thursday if Nader on Oregon ballot

SALEM, OR 2004-09-08 (Oregon Considered) - Supporters of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader will have to wait another day to find out whether the consumer advocate will appear on Oregon's ballot this fall. After a marathon four and a half hour hearing today, Marion County Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb said he would rule by noon Thursday on an 11th hour appeal from Nader supporters.
Last week, Secretary of State Bill Bradbury said Nader fell 218 signatures short of qualifying for the ballot. That outraged supporters of the presidential candidate, who argue elections officials incorrectly eliminated thousands of signature sheets.

They sued, saying Bradbury tossed out legitimate signatures of voters because of what they deem as frivolous errors on petitions. But attorney David Leith, arguing the Secretary of State's case, said Bradbury was just aiming to prevent fraud.

David Leith: There's got to be some process to verify the circulator is who the circulator purports to be, otherwise there would be no accountability in the process.

But one of Nader's attorneys, Dan Meek, argued state officials stringently applied rules for initiatives and referenda that don't apply to candidate petitions like this one.

Dan Meek: It's as if someone came, somebody who is here in Oregon and said, OK, we're here to play baseball. And the Secretary of State says, OK, play baseball. But after the game is over, says well we're not going to count the runs you scored, because actually you should have been following the rules of basketball.

Judge Lipscomb didn't comment on the baseball analogy. But in repeated questions to state attorneys, he appeared to agree with the Nader campaign. Lipscomb clearly took issue with the decision to toss out hundreds of signatures because of circulator error. It troubles me a bunch, Lipscomb chastised that the Secretary of State waives certain written requirements and adds additional unwritten requirements to signature sheets.

The hearing came on the same day the Secretary of State is legally required to certify which candidates will appear on Oregon's ballot. But state officials say Bradbury can certify a ballot without Nader's name and add it back if Lipscomb orders them to.

homepage: homepage: http://naderoregon.org