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Oregon secretary of state's election date snafu still unresolved despite judge's ruling

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April 10, 2012

By Maresa Strano

Oregon

SALEM: Oregon: In late March, a candidate running for Oregon Commissioner of Labor and Industries in the upcoming election sued secretary of state Kate Brown for neglecting to notify either of the race's candidates that the election date had been moved from May to November. The candidate who initiated the suit, Republican Bruce Starr, theorized a conspiracy was at play, led by the democratic secretary, to give Starr's opponent, Democratic incumbent Brad Avakian, a better chance of winning re-election. Others speculated that Brown, though a lawyer, is not immune to misinterpreting complex legalese, and simply made a careless error. Both campaigns were forced to recalibrate their strategies and expectations in light of the six-month postponement.

Marion County Circuit Court Judge Steven Price ruled swiftly on the matter, in apparent agreement with Brown, ordering for the election to proceed in November. The secretary of state's office wasted no time in issuing a press release to inform Oregonians whom it may concern of Secretary Brown's redemption. Weeks later, however, the questions surrounding the issue's snap-settlement persist.

On the office's website, Brown said she was satisfied "with the timely judicial review and am pleased that it ultimately showed that our Elections Division acted in accordance with the law and in the best interest of Oregon's voters."[1] Starr's counsel has revealed to press sources that what actually occurred is not so clear-cut. Judge Price based his ruling on the fact that "Starr could not prove that irreparable harm would result" from moving the election to a different date and could not achieve the outcome he desired with the May election date looming so near.[2]The ruling was not necessarily in support of the statute, which, according to Brown, the court upheld in her favor. Furthermore, the parties could have agreed to an expedited hearing on the merits of the case in time to print the ballots next month, except Brown blocked their opportunity to make such an agreement.

Brown has defended herself against rumors of foul-play since the story broke, repeatedly stating that "This is an issue of election law, not politics."[3]

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