Oregon Open Primary Initiative, Measure 90 (2014)

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Measure 90
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Type:Initiated state statute
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Elections and campaigns
Status:Defeated Defeatedd
2014 measures
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November 4
Meausre 86 Defeatedd
Measure 87 Approveda
Measure 88 Defeatedd
Measure 89 Approveda
Measure 90 Defeatedd
Measure 91 Approveda
Measure 92 Defeatedd
Endorsements
PollsExpenditures
Local measures
The Oregon Open Primary, Measure 90 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Oregon as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.

The measure would have created a top-two system of general election voting where all voters receive the same primary ballot that shows all candidates, regardless of political party. Candidates would have been allowed to include on the ballot their party registration and if they've been endorsed by a party. The top two candidates, regardless of political party, would then be voted upon in the general election.[1][2]

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

Oregon Measure 90
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No987,05068.23%
Yes 459,629 31.77%

Election results via: Oregon Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The certified ballot title for this initiative was:[3]

Changes general election nomination processes: provides for single primary ballot listing candidates; top two advance

Result of "Yes" Vote: "Yes" vote replaces general election nomination processes for most partisan offices; all candidates listed on one single primary ballot; two advance to general election ballot.

Result of "No" Vote: "No" vote retains current general election nomination processes, including party primaries for major parties; separate primary ballots; multiple candidates can appear on general election ballot.

Summary: Currently, each major party has a separate primary election ballot. Major party's registered voters nominate party's candidates; others' primary ballots include only nonpartisan candidates; all vote for one candidate per office. General election ballot may include multiple candidates per office: unaffiliated, major, minor party candidates. Measure replaces that system for most partisan offices, including many federal (not Presidential), all state, county, city, district offices. Single primary ballot lists all candidates for each office. Voters may vote for any candidate, regardless of voter's or candidate's party affiliation. Only top two candidates per office appear on general election ballot; may be from same party. Primary, general election ballots must contain candidates' party registration/endorsements. Eligible person, regardless of party, may be selected to fill vacancy. Other provisions. [4]

Full text

The full text of the measure can be read here.[5]

Background

Multiple versions of the initiative

A related initiative, the Oregon Unified Primary Elections Initiative (2014), was also circulating petitions for the 2014 ballot. That measure would have also created a top-two system and specifically allowed for voters to vote for more than one candidate in the primary election. However, supporters did not submit signatures by the deadline to place the measure on the ballot.[6]

Measure 65

In 2008, Oregon voters defeated a similar measure, Measure 65. Had it been approved, it would have brought top-two primary elections to voters, where all candidates for an office would compete against each other regardless of party, and the two candidates with the most votes would then advance to the general election.[7] Hence, the initiative was also known as the "top two" initiative.[8] Voters defeated this measure 66 to 34 percent. Measure 65's supporters tried unsuccessfully to put a similar measure on the ballot in 2006, and to pass another version through the state legislature in 2008.

Current system and proposed changes

Prior to 1904, Oregon voters relied on party conventions to nominate their candidates. In 1904, the practice of casting ballots in primaries was instituted.[9] Currently, voters must be registered with either the Republican or Democratic party in order to vote in one of these parties' primaries.[2] The reform proposed in 2008's Measure 65 and in 2014's Measure 90 is not a Montana-style open primary; rather, it is what is known as a top-two, or Louisiana-style "Cajun" primary. In a Montana-style open primary, a voter can select a party ballot and vote for members of that party. No records are kept of registered party members or supporters, so voters do not have to be registered with a specific party in order to vote on that party's ballot. In a Louisiana-style "Cajun" primary, all candidates are listed on the same ballot, regardless of party affiliation, and the two who receive the most votes advance.[10][11]

Support

Supporters

Officials

Organizations

Individuals

  • James Kelly, chief petitioner
  • Steve Hughes, state director of Oregon's Working Families Party

Arguments

Steve Hughes, state director of Oregon's Working Families Party, expressed the party's support for this initiative as a way to empower more minor political parties' participation. He further described the party's stance, saying,

[We] believe this proposal not only protects but enhances our ability to participate meaningfully in selecting who will govern our state, and what issues they will elevate in their governance. Unlike the measures that have passed in California and Washington, this version of Top Two maintains the integrity of the role for political parties by permitting party endorsements to appear on the ballot. It also enhances fusion voting, allowing multiple party endorsements, to give voters more information about what a particular candidate stands for. And, of course, it opens the door for WFP members and all others who are not registered as either a Democrat or a Republican to cast votes in the primary races that decide so much of who governs this state.[4]

—Steve Hughes, [14]

The Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review Commission voted 14-5 in opposition to Measure 90. The minority in favor of the measure listed the following reasons for their support:

We, 5 members of the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review, support Measure 90 for the following reasons:
  • M90 treats all voters equally in every election. Regardless of how Oregonians’ political views may differ every voter should have equal rights in every election. How or if they align with political parties shouldn’t affect their rights as citizens.
  • While all Oregon taxpayers fund the May primary election, voters who don’t register as a Democrat or Republican are currently not allowed to participate in primaries of the major parties. M90 would allow any registered voters to vote for primary candidates of the major parties.
  • Under M90 all registered voters would have the unrestricted right to vote for any primary candidate.
  • Most elections are currently decided in low turnout primaries. Candidates have won races with as little as 7% of total voters in a district. M90 increases competition among primary candidates allowing the primary voters to vote at their discretion, regardless of party registration.
  • M90 differs from the Top Two systems of California and Washington, because it allows voters to see candidates’ personal party registration and all party endorsements that s/he accepts. This information helps voters understand candidates’ views and allies.

A minority of panelists favored this position.[4]

—Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review Commission, [15]

Campaign contributions

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $9,144,516.96
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $1,553,638.09

Every Oregon Voter Counts was registered as the petition committee for this initiative.[16] Vote Yes on 90 and Open Primaries were political action committees (PACs) registered to support the initiative, as well. The following information was current as of December 1, 2014.[17][18][19]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Vote Yes on 90 $5,770,716.96 $5,769,556.47
Open Primaries $2,750,000.00 $2,662,247.94
Every Oregon Voter Counts $623,800.00 $623,830.00
Total $9,144,516.96 $9,055,634.41


Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
John Arnold $2,750,000.00
Open Primaries $2,422,969.00
Michael Bloomberg $2,130,000.00
Independent Voting $150,385.72
Tusk Strategies $139,119.29

Opposition

Opponents

The most active opponents were the Oregon Progressive Party and the Pacific Green Party. Their joint website was Save Oregon's Democracy.

Citizens' Initiative Review

In a vote on August 20, 2014, the Citizens' Initiative Review Commission voted 14-5 in opposition to Measure 90. The panel found that Measure 90 "limits the voice of minority voters, minor parties, and grassroots campaigns. A diverse electorate needs choice & diversity in the General Election."[20]

Organizations

The following organizations were opposed to Measure 90, according to the No on 90 website:[21]

  • Protect Our Vote
  • Oregon Progressive Party[22]
  • Oregon State Fire Fighters Council
  • Oregon Nurses Association
  • Oregon Education Association
  • The Free and Equal Elections Foundation
  • Democratic Party of Oregon
  • Oregon Republican Party Executive Committee
  • Pacific Green Party
  • Oregon Progressive Party
  • Ballot Access News
  • PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste)
  • SEIU Local 503
  • SEIU Local 49
  • UFCW Local 555
  • Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters
  • AFSCME Council 75
  • Our Oregon
  • Economic Fairness Oregon
  • Joint Council of Teamsters #37
  • Oregon School Employees Association
  • Eugene / Springfield Solidarity Network / Jobs With Justice

Officials

The following officials were opposed to Measure 90, according to the No on 90 website:[21]

Arguments

Dan Meek, an attorney who often represents minor political parties, expressed the opposition of the Oregon Progressive Party:

The top two primary is a very bad idea. Oregon voters recognized that when they defeated the same measure in 2008 (Measure 65) by an overwhelming vote of 66-34%. Top-two blanket primaries are intended to make political party labels meaningless, thus depriving voters of the most important single piece of information that most voters rely upon in making their decisions on candidates. They also allow complete strangers to hijack the names of all parties on the ballot, including minor parties (which Measure 90 actually destroys, thus reducing the choices available on all ballots). The "new" measure is 99.9% the same as Measure 65 of 2008 (and is exactly the same in all meaningful respects), the information at http://saveoregonsdemocracy.org is very relevant, particularly http://saveoregonsdemocracy.org/danmeek.html.[4]

—Dan Meek, [23]

The Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review Commission voted 14-5 in opposition to Measure 90. Those against the measure listed the following reasons for their opposition:

We, 14 members of the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review, oppose Measure 90 for the following reasons:
  • A broad coalition opposes M90, including at least two election reform groups, as well as major and minor political parties.
  • M90 limits the voice of minority voters, minor parties, and grassroots campaigns. A diverse electorate needs choice & diversity in the General Election.
  • M90 has several drafting errors. The most significant appears to eliminate minor parties. Because M90 bars parties from nominating candidates, their legal status is in jeopardy. Another error could allow candidates with more than 50% of the primary vote to automatically win their election without a November run-off.
  • Home Rule counties have their own election systems independent of the statewide system. M90 could result in a confusing patchwork of contradictory election rules - candidates could have different rules in different areas of their district.
  • Turnout in Primary Elections is much lower than General Elections. M90 decreases choice in the General Election for all voters. Nationwide, Primary turnout has fallen to less than 15%, including Top Two states.

A majority of panelists favored this position.[4]

—Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review Commission, [15]

Campaign contributions

Protect Our Vote registered as an opposing political action committee (PAC) for this measure on July 25, 2014. The following was current as of December 1, 2014.[24][17]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Protect Our Vote $1,553,638.09 $1,453,986.22
Total $1,553,638.09 $1,453,986.22


Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
Defend Oregon $950,604.00
American Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO $100,000.00
Oregon AFSCME Council 75 $100,000.00
SEIU Local 503, OPEU PAC $69,051.64
SEIU Local 503, OPEU $51,200.00

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Oregon ballot measures, 2014

Support

  • The Herald and News supported the measure before its approval for the ballot, saying,
Success in gathering the signatures will put the matter before the voters, which is where it belongs. Right now, Oregon voters are voting with their feet by “walking away” from the established parties, but without a change in the election system that turns over control of much of Oregon’s political processes to a narrowly focused minority because that’s who the current process favors.[4]

—Forum Editor Pat Bushey, [25]

  • The Mail Tribune said, following the submission of signatures to place the measure on the ballot,
The strongest argument is that unaffiliated voters — independents with a small "i" — may not vote in partisan primaries. That's a huge chunk of the electorate shut out of determining who will appear on the ballot in November. [...] The open primary could result in a general election contest between two Republicans or two Democrats. That would actually be a good thing, because in a largely one-party district, the minority party candidate would have little or no chance anyway, and two candidates from a single party would at least give voters a choice in November — and that would tend to keep incumbents in "safe" seats on their toes.[4]

—The Mail Tribune, [26]

  • The Corvallis Gazette-Times said,
In theory at least, the candidates who wanted to emerge from the primary would be forced to appeal to the broadest possible bloc of voters. No more appeals by candidates to narrow interests, either ultra-conservative or hyper-liberal. No more shifting positions after the primary in order to appeal to a broader section of the electorate — a common occurrence, as candidates often must appeal to the fringes in a primary and then attempt to tack to the center in the general election. The ultimate result could be fewer partisan divisions in the Legislature and other elected bodies and winning candidates more inclined to search for common ground.[4]

—Corvallis Gazette-Times, [27]

  • The Portland Tribune said,
The overwhelming evidence from Washington and elsewhere is that voters, once they try it, will like an open primary better than the current closed partisan system. In a state where half of newly registered voters are choosing not to join either of the major parties, open primaries are the future. Along the way, Oregon also is likely to benefit from a primary system that encourages candidates to appeal to a broader spectrum of voters. We recommend a yes vote on Measure 90 — a rare good-government measure in an era of special-interest politics.[4]

—Portland Tribune, [28]

  • The Albany Democrat Herald said,
Of course, individual voters in Oregon don’t have a say how the Legislature splits in terms of partisan divisions: At best, voters only cast ballots in two legislative races each election.

But an initiative on the November ballot, Measure 90, has the potential to take a small but important step toward a government that truly values bipartisanship – and, in the bargain, would enfranchise thousands of Oregon voters who now are shut out of the system...The ultimate result could be fewer partisan divisions in the Legislature and other elected bodies and winning candidates more inclined to search for common ground.

Measure 90 won’t solve all of our government woes. But it would be a fundamental change – and one that offers a measure of hope for people interested in better government.[4]

Albany Democrat Herald, [29]

  • The Oregonian said,
These elections, like so many others, are not truly competitive, which is why we're going to endorse ... Measure 90, which would open up Oregon's clubby partisan primaries to all voters...Measure 90 would make the process of choosing elected representatives far more inclusive. All candidates for an office would appear on the same primary ballot, which would be open to all voters regardless of affiliation. The top two vote-getters would advance to the general election. This process would give voters greater authority to choose the menu from which they must eat.[4]

Oregonian, [30]

Opposition

  • The Skanner said,
We are leery of changing the state elections system, especially after a sketchy campaign in which the ‘Yes on 90’ camp filed fake Voters Guide statements and even created a fake website to lampoon its opponents. Top Two has not resulted in less contentious elections or more ethnic representation in the two states in which it has passed – despite claims to the contrary. We vote NO.[4]

Skanner, [31]

  • The Portland Mercury said,
It's still too early to say whether top-two primaries have left things better or worse or no different in California and Washington. Both states have had open primaries for only a handful of election cycles—and, in fact, some of the early signs haven't been so good.

All of which explains why we just can't bring ourselves to say yes to Measure 90. Not now. And maybe not ever.[4]

Portland Mercury, [32]

  • The Statesman Journal said,
The lure of the "open primary" measure on Tuesday's ballot is too good to be true.

Measure 90 would cut down voters' choices instead of expanding them. It would use election law to redefine which candidates would best serve Oregonians. And, despite what supporters contend, it would not take the "big money" out of politics; that money simply would be redirected...Measure 90 also has problems related to Oregon's convoluted election laws. In some instances, only one candidate might advance to the general election.

Oregon would be better served by clarifying and streamlining existing election laws instead of adopting Measure 90.[4]

Statesman Journal, [33]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Oregon Open Primary Initiative (2014)
Poll Support OpposeNot sureMargin of ErrorSample Size
DHM Research
10/08/2014 - 10/11/2014
36%38%26%+/-4.3516
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon

In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters were required to collect a minimum of 87,213 valid signatures by July 3, 2014. The proposed initiative was filed on January 28, 2014, and approved for petition circulation on May 15, 2014.[1]

On June 23, 2014, supporters announced they had submitted 140,045 signatures to the secretary of state's office.[34] On July 15, 2014, the measure was certified for the November ballot with 91,716 valid signatures.[35]

Similar measures

See also

BP-Initials-UPDATED.png
Suggest a link

News stories

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Oregon Secretary of State, "Detailed display of initiative 55," accessed May 26, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 OregonLive.com, "Backers of 'top two' primary initiative submit 140,000 signatures to Oregon secretary of state," June 23, 2014
  3. Oregon Secretary of State, "Initiative petition #55," accessed September 30, 2014
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Oregon Secretary of State, "Full text of initiative petition #55," accessed September 30, 2014
  6. Equal Vote Coalition, Notes from the measures' author (dead link)
  7. "Open Primaries in Oregon?" from BlueOregon.com
  8. OregonLive.com: "Two more initiatives qualify for Ore. ballot," The Oregonian, July 21, 2008
  9. Statesman-Journal, "Measure 65 would alter Oregon's primary election system significantly," October 16, 2008
  10. Pacific Green Party Secretary Seth Woolley's Blog Top Two is Not an Open Primary
  11. Seattle Times, "Montana-style primary system would preserve parties, prevent mischief," February 15, 2004
  12. KGW, "Kitzhaber, Richardson share stage in first debate," July 18, 2014
  13. The Oregonian, "Working Families Party endorses top-two primary initiative on Oregon ballot," July 25, 2014
  14. Blue Oregon, "Why the Working Families Party is supporting the Oregon Open Primary ballot measure," July 30, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 HealthyDemocracy.org, "CITIZENS' INITIATIVE REVIEW: REVIEW OF MEASURE 90," accessed September 22, 2014
  16. Oregon Secretary of State, "Statement of Organization for Petition Committee ID: 16892," accessed July 30, 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 Oregon Secretary of State, "Measure 90 Campaign Finance Activity," accessed December 12, 2014
  18. https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/sooDetail.do?sooRsn=76016 Oregon Secretary of State, "Statement of Organization for Political Action Committee: Vote Yes on 90," accessed December 12, 2014]
  19. Oregon Secretary of State, "Statement of Organization for Political Action Committee: Open Primaries," accessed December 12, 2014
  20. HealthyDemocracy.org, "CITIZENS' INITIATIVE REVIEW REVIEW OF MEASURE 90," accessed August 21, 2014
  21. 21.0 21.1 NoonMeasure90.org, "The Coalition," accessed August 21, 2014
  22. Progressive Party, "Party Endorses Some Oregon Ballot Measures, Opposes Others," accessed August 21, 2014
  23. Independent Political Report, "Top-Two Initiative Qualifies for Oregon 2014 Ballot," July 16, 2014
  24. Oregon Secretary of State, "Statement of Organization for Political Action Committee ID: 17013," accessed July 30, 2014
  25. Herald and News, "The H&N View: Let voters decide how tight partisan ties should be," June 24, 2014
  26. The Mail Tribune, "Our Opinion: Open wide," June 25, 2014
  27. Corvallis Gazette-Times, "Editorial: Oregon voters should take fresh look at open primaries," July 7, 2014
  28. Portland Tribune, "Our Opinion: Open primary appeals to more voters," September 25, 2014
  29. Albany Democrat Herald, "Editorial: Measure 90 wuold enfranchise voters, encourage bipartisanship," October 13, 2014
  30. Oregonian, "Measure 90 for Congress: Editorial Endorsement," October 16, 2014
  31. Skanner, "The Skanner News Elections Endorsements: Support These Measures on the Nov. 4 Ballot," October 16, 2014
  32. Portland Mercury, "It's the Mercury's Endorsement Guide! ," October 22, 2014
  33. Statesman Journal, "'Open' primary? Measure 90 a bad idea for Oregon," October 30, 2014
  34. The Oregonian, "Backers of 'top two' primary initiative submit 140,000 signatures to Oregon secretary of state," June 23, 2014
  35. Statesmen Journal, "Open primary initiative qualifies for November ballot," July 16, 2014