Opinion: GOP elected officials in Oregon make pointless effort to cast doubt on vote-by-mail
In one of the most curious and pointless political stunts of this long year, 12 Republicans in the Oregon House and Senate on 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, which was rejected by the U.S Supreme Court Friday evening, had asked the 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 Trump, who lost in both the electoral college and the popular vote.
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 is on record supporting the states opposing Texas. Further, what these Republicans were seeking, in essence, was to invalidate Oregon's own seven electoral votes. After all, if the election results were overturned, Oregon's voters would be disenfranchised right along with those in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those seven electoral votes don't count for a lot — but they are all we have in presidential elections.
It's especially odd to see state Sen. Kim Thatcher as a signer 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 50.4% to 43.3%.
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 serious in future campaigns. The same goes for her co-signatories, many of whom we respect and thought would know better: Sens. Chuck Thomsen, Dennis Linthicum and Alan Olsen, and Reps. Bill Post, Vikki Breese-Iverson, Greg Barreto, Gary Leif, Mike Nearman, E. Werner Reschke and Bobby Levy.
Their letter had no effect, but the signers should consider just how anti-Oregon their message would sound to a population that is well-accustomed to mail voting and would highly resent having its electoral votes essentially tossed aside.
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