M110 opponents request new ballots in Washington County
Opponents of Measure 110, which would decriminalize small amounts of drugs in Oregon, requested the state elections director to issue ballots in Washington County due to an error in the ballots that describes the measure's financial impact.
Last Friday, Oct. 16, Washington County officials said they failed to recognize errors in the "Result of" sections of four statewide measures on the general election ballots.
Measures 107, 108, 109 and 110 were printed with the response of "Yes" and "No" randomly buried in the "Result of 'Yes' Vote" and "Result of 'No' Vote" sections of the ballot, according to Mickie Kawai, election manager for the county.
Measure 110 would decriminalize personal possession of small amounts of illicit drugs including, cocaine, heroin, Oxycodone and methamphetamine — Oregon would be the first state to do so. It would also reduce penalties for possessing larger amounts.
The measure would redirect funds from cannabis taxes, and use savings from law enforcement to make fewer drug arrests, fund health assessments, addiction treatment, harm reduction and other services for people with addiction disorders.
The ballot explanation for Measure 110 reads: "Result of 'No' Vote: 'No' rejects requiring addiction recovery centers/services; retains No current marijuana tax revenue uses; maintains current classifications/penalties for possession of drugs."
"As printed, the description falsely says a "No" vote would change what's funded by marijuana taxes, when in fact it's a "Yes" vote that would take millions of tax dollars away from schools," said Jim O'Rourke of the No on Measure 110 campaign in a statement Thursday, Oct. 22. "Washington County voters deserve new, correct ballots."
In a letter sent to Stephen Trout, elections director for the state, the No on Measure 110 campaign said new, correct ballots for the measure should be issued to all Washington County voters because the error changes the meaning of the measure's explanation.
Ballots containing the error should not be tallied, the campaign added. The county had already received more than 32,500 ballots by Monday, Oct. 19.
The campaign's statement announcing the request stated Washington County has 13 percent of all Oregon voters, "which means the error could easily affect the outcome of the vote."
After consulting with the secretary of state's office, Washington County officials previously said the error shouldn't affect how people vote or their ability to fill in their votes for the measures as intended.
In a statement Friday, Philip Bransford, spokesman for the county, said, "We conferred with the Secretary of State's Office about our plan to continue processing the current ballots despite the errors, and the Secretary of State's Office agreed with that plan."
Trout didn't immediately respond to an email request for comment Friday.
In response to the request to reissue ballots, Peter Zuckerman, manager for the Yes on Measure 110 campaign, said, "The opposition wants to throw out votes that have been counted and question the integrity of our election."
Proponents of the measure say it would take people addicted to drugs out of the criminal justice system, treating their addiction as a medical problem.
Opponents say the measure say it doesn't put enough funding into treatment while going too far toward decriminalization when the state already offers alternatives to jail time for most people convicted of drug possession.
The No campaign has also raised concerns about the Secretary of State's approved ballot title being misleading, stating it doesn't explicitly say would drugs would be decriminalized, and in what amounts, among other concerns.
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