When it comes to voter rights, Oregon has led the way. We passed vote by mail, online voter registration, and preregistration for 16-year-olds. Now, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has introduced a rule that would roll back voter protections.

Richardson is proposing drastic changes to the ballot initiative process. Most notably, he wants to allow groups to circulate petitions without a ballot title or the text of the proposal.

The proposed rule would make it impossible for voters to know for sure what they’re signing — and make it easier for petition circulators to mislead (or outright lie to) potential signers.

Richardson, a Republican, knows that when Oregonians know what they’re signing, they don’t support rollbacks to immigrant protections, reproductive choice, and workers’ rights. Instead of giving voters the power to make good decisions, Richardson is letting petitioners get signatures through deception.

The media report that extremists, such as Oregonians for Immigration Reform, are already taking advantage of this rule to peddle their bigotry. My thanks to Rep. Dan Rayfield for requesting legal review of the proposed rule.

This rule change would take Oregon back to the Bill Sizemore era of fraud and lies in the initiative process. It’s not too late: Richardson’s office is accepting public comment through Sept. 14. Please submit your comment on OAR Chapter 165 Division 14 to elections.sos@state.or.us.

Faith Reidenbach

Philomath (Aug. 31)

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