Close raps Bradbury over Nader issue
Time to commit Democratcide.
Sept. 12, 2004
State Rep. Betsy Close has taken note of the Nader ballot controversy in her campaign for secretary of state.
A judge in Marion County Thursday overturned Secretary of State Bill Bradbury's decision to keep Ralph Nader off the presidential ballot, and Close, an Albany Republican, said the ruling showed that Bradbury had "once again used his office for partisan politician reasons."
Close, who has served three terms in the House, issued a statement in which she said: "It was grossly unfair for my opponent to disenfranchise thousands of voters who signed those petitions in good faith... It raises serious questions about my opponent's credibility and his ability to administer the law impartially and legally. No secretary of state should use his office to impact a partisan race."
The ruling Thursday came from Marion County Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb.
State Elections Director John Lindback said Lipscomb's decision would be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Nader supporters submitted more than 18,000 signatures, but Bradbury last week invalidated several thousand because of alleged irregularities on petition sheets.
That left Nader 218 signatures short of the 15,306 needed to put him on the Nov. 2 ballot, prompting a lawsuit by his supporters. Lipscomb's decision gives him enough signatures to qualify.
Nader backers had accused Bradbury of using technicalities to keep Nader off the ballot because Bradbury is an open supporter of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Democrats fear Nader's candidacy could draw votes from Kerry and tip the election to President Bush.
Lipscomb said Bradbury's office acted without authority using unwritten rules to disqualify petitions because of perceived problems with circulators' signature and dating requirements.
One office policy, for example, was that circulators had to sign an initial and last name to petitions, not just initials.
Lindback and his staff examined petitions with verified signatures from counties and removed some sheets because circulators failed to sign and date them properly, the judge said.
"There appears to be no statutory or administrative rule authority for that novel action by the secretary at the post-verification stage," Lipscomb said.
Lindback said Lipscomb's ruling "opens the door wide to fraud.
"The secretary of state must have latitude to interpret our rules to deal with fraud," he said. "It is impossible for us to anticipate every single way for someone to commit fraud."
Because of mailing deadlines, Lindback ordered some ballots for military personnel and other overseas Oregon residents to be printed with Nader's name on them. That amounts to only about 5,000 ballots, he said.
He said he would advise counties to hold off on printing almost 2 million ballots for the general population until the Supreme Court acts on the state's appeal.
Kevin Neely, spokesman for Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers, said the state will be up against "critical" ballot printing deadlines if the courts haven't resolved the issue within two weeks.
After Lipscomb's decision, Portland attorney Travis Diskin, a spokesman for the Oregon Nader campaign, said, "We're very happy about it."
But Neel Pender, Oregon Democratic Party executive director, said the party believes there were significant problems with signatures gathered by the Nader campaign.
At the same time, Pender called Nader's candidacy a "political sideshow" and predicted he would draw little support from progressive voters even if he ends up on the Nov. 2 ballot.
"Progressives are supporting John Kerry. He is the only option to defeat George Bush," he said.
Nader drew 5 percent of Oregon's presidential vote in 2000, but recent polls indicate his Oregon support has dwindled to 1.5 percent or less in this election.
Oregon Republican Chairman Kevin Mannix applauded the judge's ruling and said Nader's presence on the ballot could aid Bush.
"If Ralph Nader draws votes from anyone, it will be from John Kerry," Mannix said. "That's because Nader appeals to people on the political left, which is Kerry's neighborhood."
Mannix said the Democratic secretary of state went out of his way to keep Nader off the ballot to help Kerry.
"I see a harsh streak of partisanship in Mr. Bradbury's actions," the state GOP chairman said.
If Nader remains on the ballot, Oregonians will have six choices among presidential contenders.
Besides Kerry and Bush, candidates qualifying earlier were David Cobb, Pacific Green Party; Michael Anthony Peroutka, Constitution Party, and Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party.
Nader used the statewide petitioning route after failing at two conventions in Portland earlier this year to get the needed 1,000 voter signatures required to qualify for the ballot.
The consumer activist has met the requirements to appear on ballots in about 20 states.
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