Our Opinion: A pointless and anti-democratic exercise
In one of the most curious and pointless political stunts of this long year, 12 Republicans in the Oregon House and Senate last Friday sent a letter to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum asking her to support a lawsuit that would, in effect, nullify the wishes of Oregon voters in the presidential election.
The lawsuit from the state of Texas asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and thwart the will of voters in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The goal was to deny President-elect Joe Biden the electoral votes from those states, and thereby throw the election to President Donald Trump, who lost in both the Electoral College and the popular vote.
Hours after the Republican legislators' letter was sent to Rosenblum, the Supreme Court tossed the case out for lack of standing. Legal experts said even if the court had taken it up, it almost certainly would have repudiated the case on the merits.
This last-minute Hail Mary effort by Republicans to overturn the will of voters will be remembered as a stain on the character of participating Republicans. But it is almost humorous that these 12 Oregon Republicans would bother to send Rosenblum such a letter.
First, Rosenblum, a Democrat, would never join with the Texas suit, and had already gone on record opposing it. Further, what these Republicans sought, in essence, was to invalidate Oregon's own seven electoral votes. After all, if the election results were somehow overturned, Oregon's voters would be disenfranchised: They backed the winning candidate, like the voters of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
It's especially odd to see state Sen. Kim Thatcher — who represents parts of Washington County, including pieces of Hillsboro and Tigard as well as King City, Sherwood and Wilsonville — as a signatory on the letter, considering that she spent much of this year attempting to convince Oregon voters that she should be secretary of state.
In Oregon, the secretary of state is the protector of the election process or, to put it a little more poetically, the protector of the person who votes.
Republicans who have held this job (Bev Clarno, Dennis Richardson, Norma Paulus, Tom McCall) have understood this constitutional role as the guardian of the voters' will. Democrats who have held this job (Kate Brown, Bill Bradbury, Barbara Roberts) have understood it just as well.
Voters in November turned down Thatcher for that role; she lost to state Sen. Shemia Fagan by about 7 percentage points.
It gets even stranger, though: The letter writers chided the four states where Biden won for "changing their voting procedures during the coronavirus pandemic to allow for increased mail-in ballots."
It is almost blasphemous for these lawmakers, all of whom were elected with mail-in ballots, to question mail voting. Oregon is rightly proud of its vote-by-mail system, and Thatcher and the rest of the signers know mail voting is safe and highly accurate. To quote their fellow Republican, Clarno: "During a global pandemic, Oregon proved to the nation that vote-by-mail works, and is safe and secure."
Thatcher lost her statewide election, but signing a letter like this makes it hard to take her seriously in future campaigns. The same goes for her co-signatories from elsewhere in the state: Sens. Chuck Thomsen, Dennis Linthicum and Alan Olsen; Reps. Bill Post, Vikki Breese-Iverson, Greg Barreto, Gary Leif, Mike Nearman and E. Werner Reschke; and Rep.-elect Bobby Levy.
Their letter had no effect — other than to permanently tarnish the reputation of these lawmakers. It's their responsibility to put these United States, and Oregon, ahead of their own desire to advance the interests of the Republican Party. They failed in that responsibility. And that will not soon be forgotten.
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