Prete v. Bradbury
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The outcome of the lawsuit was that U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken, a Clinton appointee, upheld Oregon's ban on pay-per-signature on February 11, 2004. The ban was one of the provisions of Oregon Ballot Measure 26.
Plaintiffs in the case were Barbara and Eugene Prete. They appealed the district court's ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In February 2006, the court of appeals upheld the lower court's ruling.
Impact on initiative process in Oregon
In December 2007, several conservative initiative activists in Oregon, including Bill Sizemore received registered letters from Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury notifying them of Bradbury's intention to fine them $250 each because two petitioners working as subcontractors for several petition drives in 2006 allegedly paid their circulators by the signature..
Impact in other states
In the wake of opposition to a successful 2006 petition drive for a TABOR initiative, there was a move in the Nebraska Unicameral to pass laws increasing restrictions on petition circulators. One of the proposed legislative restrictions, LB 39, would have prohibited paying circulators by the signature. Nebraska state senator Annette Dubas requested an opinion from Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning about whether the proposed legislative restriction was constitutional. Bruning's opinion included an analysis of Prete v. Bradbury about how the ruling in Prete v. Bradbury applied to the proposed Nebraska petition law. His conclusion was:
As is the case regarding the First Amendment analysis, however, determining whether the prohibition proposed in LB 39 is a reasonable regulation to prevent fraud which facilitates the initiative process, as opposed to an impermissible obstruction or impediment, would no doubt hinge on an evaluation of evidence relating to the burden imposed on petition sponsors by such a restriction, as well as evidence as to the State’s justification of the prohibition as a means to prevent fraud. Thus, while the prohibition against payment of petition circulators based on the number of signatures collected in LB 39 does not facially violate art. III, § 4, its application could be challenged based on facts demonstrating it does not reasonably serve to facilitate the petition process.
- Laws governing petition circulators
- History of restrictions on paid circulators
- Person v. New York State Board of Elections
- Initiative & Referendum Institute v. Jaeger
- Official text of the Prete v. Bradbury decision
- Paid Petitioners after Prete
- Election fraud and the initiative process
- More lawsuit news Ballot Access News, March 1, 2004
- Oregon's anti "pay per signature" law perhaps headed to the US Supreme Court?
- Opinion of Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning as to the constitutionality of LB 39 February 20, 2007
- History of HB 1087