September 22, 2004
A few minutes ago, the Oregon Supreme Court issued a decision removing Ralph Nader from the Oregon ballot. The Nader Campaign is taking steps to appeal the Oregon Supreme Court decision to the US Supreme Court.
In reaction to the decision Ralph Nader said:
"This is a sad day for democracy in America. It is evident that our independent presidential campaign has greatly stressed a corrupt exclusionary system, and that the Democratic Party will stop at nothing to deny voters the opportunity to vote for our candidacy. They would rather limit voters' choices—in an attempt to force them to vote for a candidate they do not believe in and do not support or stay at home in disgust. The anti-democratic approach of the Democratic Party is weakening a democracy already rendered anemic."
The Oregon Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Marion County Circuit Court, which had found against Secretary of State's Bradbury's refusal to count over 3,000 of the 18,000 voter signatures that had been submitted by the Nader campaign and found valid and verified by Oregon County Boards of Elections. The Circuit Court had concluded that the Secretary of State had applied "unwritten rules" to the Nader petitions:
"These unwritten rules, however longstanding, are not supported by the written administrative rules as set forth in the Manual, and they are inconsistent with ORS 247.005, as well as with the prior policy of the Elections Division as set forth above. Additionally, it was obvious from the testimony of Mr. Lindback that the Secretary's unwritten rules were not applied either uniformly or consistently in actual practice."
The Oregon Supreme Court's decision allows the Secretary of State to use 'unwritten rules," pertaining to the appearance of the circulator's signature on each petition, to disqualify the valid and county-verified voter signatures on each petition. The decision refers to "directives" that the Secretary of State issued to the county elections offices but fails to recognize that those directives were not "rules" but instead were internal directives that were not provided to the public. Further, there was nothing in the said internal directives that authorized the Secretary of State to remove the 3,000 signatures in question after the counties had all already competed their work.
The Nader campaign will be arguing to the US Supreme Court that the Secretary of State's actions violated the rights of voters and circulators under the United States Constitution.