Kristof filing challenges ballot removal
Lawyers for former New York Times journalist Nick Kristof asked the Oregon Supreme Court to put him back on the ballot for the Democrat nominee for governor on Friday, Jan. 14.
The filing challenged the ruling by Secretary of State Shemia Fagan that Kristof does not meet state residency requirements to run for governor in the 2022 election.
Fagan ruled that Kristof has lived in New York and registered to vote there as recently as 2020. Kristof's lawyers argued he was raised in Oregon and considers it his home, even though he lived elsewhere for college and work.
The filing charges that Fagan's ruling is unsupported by legal precedent. Both Oregon and New York law are clear that a person may have multiple residences andÂ still be a resident, and New York law allows a person to vote in the state even if their primary residence is elsewhere, the filing said.
Kristof filed as a Democrat for governor on Dec. 20. Fagan's office, which regulates elections, sent him a letter the next day asking for more proof of his Oregon residency.
"Until late 2020 or early 2021, Mr. Kristof lived in New York and has for the past 20 years," Fagan said. "Until recently, he was employed in New York. He received his mail at his New York address. He filed income taxes in New York. And perhaps most importantly, Mr. Kristof voted as a resident of New York for 20 years, including — and this is important — as recently as November 2020."
Kristof responded several hours later during a press conference of his own, characterizing the ruling as a political, not legal, decision. He accused Fagan, a fellow Democrat, of being part of an establishment that favors other Democrat candidates for governor, such as former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and State Treasurer Tobias Read.
"My willingness to challenge the status quo is the reason state officials want to toss me from the ballot," Kristof said. "This was a political decision, not one based on the law."
The supreme court agreed to take up the case on Jan. 12. Fagan's response is due by Jan. 20. Kristof's reply is due by Jan. 26. There is no deadline for the court to rule after that.
Oregon ballots must be printed by March 17. In her initial filing, Fagan said the court would need to reach a final decision before that date so that ballots can be printed and mailed on time, either with Kristof's name on it, or not.
Fagan insisted her office reviewed Kristof as it would have any other candidate.
"In the end, our election officials told me it wasn't even a close call," she said. "And while there have been creative legal arguments and an impressive PR campaign, given the evidence, I venture that most Oregonians who are paying attention have reached the same conclusion."
In a previous letter to Fagan's office, Kristof's attorneys said there has only been one Oregon court case that considered the question of whether voter registration determines residency, an election for a state House seat in 1974. A Marion County judge ruled that "the question of domicile is largely one of intent," a precedent that supports Kristof.
The filing can be found here.
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