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Former Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins is worried ruling could adversely impact voters with multiple residences.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof.The final Oregon Supreme Court filing in the case about whether former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof can run for governor is due by Wednesday, Jan. 26.

There is no deadline for the court to decide the case after that, but ballots for the 2022 primary election must be ready by March 17.

The Oregon Constitution requires that candidates for governor must be a "resident within" the state for three years before the general election they could win, in this case November 2022. The constitution and state law does not define the term "resident."

Kristof filed for the Democrat nomination on Dec. 20, 2021. The Oregon Secretary of State's Office asked for information about his residency the next day. Kristof's attorneys replied he was raised in Oregon, considers the state his home and only moved out for education and employment. Kristof said he maintains property in the state and that he and his family repeatedly return to and live on it.

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan ruled Kristof ineligible to run, arguing that he had lived in New York and voted there are recently as 2020. Kristof appealed the ruling to the supreme court, arguing, among other things, that the Marion County Circuit Court ruled in 1974 that state Rep. Bill Wyatt was eligible to run for the northern Oregon Coast seat despite registering and voting in Eugene while attending the University of Oregon earlier. Then-Oregon Secretary of State Clay Myers did not appeal the ruling.

The Oregon Department of Justice, representing Fagan, responded with a filing on Jan. 20 that argued that the "text, context and history" of the constitutional requirement indicted that "resident within" means "a person must have been domiciled in Oregon during that period" and that a person "can only have one domicile at any given time."

"Although [Kristof] lived in Oregon beginning at age 12 and until he left for college, and he continues to have ties here, his conduct shows that he was domiciled in New York — not Oregon — until at least December 2020," the state's brief continued.

Kristof campaign chair Carol Butler responded by saying, "Secretary Fagan has yet to point to any legal precedent that supports her questionable political decision to remove Nick Kristof from the ballot. No press release or political spin can change these facts: three of her predecessors as secretary of state and a former Supreme Court Justice have rejected her position. No other Oregon secretary of state in the past 30 years has applied the residency standard in the way she has. And the only applicable court case in Oregon's history, Wyatt vs. Myers, contradicts her decision."

The pending court decision has both short- and long-term implications. Kristof has raised far more money than any other Democrat contender, including Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, who is stepping down to run for governor, and State Treasurer Tobias Read.

The decision also may affect the voting rights of other Oregonians who have multiple residences they do not consider their homes. Former Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins told the Portland Tribune she is concerned the ruling might adversely affect people like Wyatt who register to vote while temporarily living away from what they consider their home — sometimes even out of state.

"Many people do have dual residencies, and although they can't cast ballots in both places, I know I have argued that they can legitimately choose one or the other. Would that be inconsistent with the position taken by the Secretary in Mr. Kristof's case? It sounds like it," Atkins said in an email.


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