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Governor Signs Sen. Metsger's Bill Restoring Voting Rights to 430,000 OregoniansSalem-News.com
“It’s been a long and difficult road, but I am gratified my colleagues realized that democracy was not being served by such an unjust law” -? Senator Rick Metsger
(SALEM, Ore.) - Senator Rick Metsger (D-Welches) said today, “A major injustice has been rectified.” Metsger is the chief sponsor and advocate for Senate Bill 326 which the Governor signed into law today.
SB 326 ensures that every voter, no matter their political party, has equal access to the ballot box, or to stand for election, by repealing a previous statute which discriminated against over 430,000 Oregon voters who do not belong to a political party.
“I am pleased to see the Governor support SB 326,” said Metsger.
“The previous law was discriminatory and flawed. The law did not allow every Oregonian the ability to fully participate in the elections process. I believe that every voter has the right to vote on every issue on the ballot regardless of who they may have supported in the nomination process. I drafted SB 326 because I believe that voters do not have to accept unequal treatment and discrimination at the ballot box.”
SB 326 repeals a law created in 2005 by HB 2614, which effectively discriminated against unaffiliated candidates by limiting their ability to run for office or sign a petition for others who wish to run for office.
According to HB 2614, a voter was prohibited from signing a petition for a nonaffiliated candidate if they voted in the primary election, even if they did not vote for the office that was the subject of the petition. It also made it all but impossible for a nonaffiliated candidate to run for office because the signature threshold was too high to be reasonably achieved by a potential candidate.
“Under the previous law, a citizen could not even vote on local tax measures or school board elections if they wished to sign a petition for a nonpartisan candidate to run to be their state representative, senator or even governor,” Metsger said.
With the implementation of SB 326, a voter now has the ability to participate in the nomination of candidates outside of the two major parties while still retaining their right and ability to vote upon all issues in the primary election.
Metsger made the repeal of the 2005 law a primary objective of his candidacy for Oregon Secretary of State in 2008. Despite the pressure from the political establishment, Metsger was pleased to successfully push the repeal in the final week of the legislative session.
“It’s been a long and difficult road, but I am gratified my colleagues realized that democracy was not being served by such an unjust law,” Metsger added.
Senator Rick Metsger serves as the President Pro Tempore and Chairs the Senate Business and Transportation Committee. He also serves as a member on the Senate Rules and Education Committees.
Source: Oregon Legislature news release
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