Lawsuit filed in Oregon GMO labeling recount

by jeeg 10. December 2014 00:15

 

Supporters of a measure to label genetically modified food in Oregon filed a lawsuit Monday claiming 4,600 valid votes were rejected during the statewide recount that's underway.

Nine voters have asked a judge for a restraining order to stop certification of the recount results until those 4,600 votes are counted, said Keven Glenn, spokesman for the Yes on 92 campaign.

"We have said from the beginning of the recount that all valid votes should be counted, but unfortunately that is not happening currently," said Paige Richardson, spokeswoman for the Yes on 92 campaign.

The 4,600 voters were among about 13,000 who completed, signed and submitted their ballots on time, but whose votes were not counted because their signatures did not match the signature on file.

They were notified and given until Nov. 18 to fix the problem.

But many of those voters' signatures changed because of illness or disability, the lawsuit claims. Some were never notified their vote was being challenged. Others tried to correct their signature with elections officials, but still find their vote is not being counted.

Ballot instructions don't inform voters that their signature must match the signature on file, the requirement is not in Oregon's election law, and there is no evidence any of the voters have engaged in election fraud, the suit claims.

"Thousands of voters should not have their rights denied because of a technicality that the law does not require," said George Kimbrell, senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety, lead author of Measure 92. "Absent evidence of forgery or fraud, these ballots must be counted."

Plaintiff Christine Seals is a quadriplegic who uses a stamp as her legal signature.

She received a letter stating her signature didn't match, but she didn't respond because she assumed the letter was a mistake, given her longstanding disability, which she thought was well-documented in the county elections office.

"I think it is very wrong that elections officials are disenfranchising me in this election because they've suddenly decided not to accept my stamp," Seals said.

Plaintiff Cameron Alderman's ballot was initially delivered to the wrong apartment, but he eventually was able to submit his ballot on time. He didn't receive any notice that his ballot had been rejected, perhaps because it was again sent to the wrong address.

"When I didn't get my ballot initially, I tried really hard to make sure my vote got counted," Alderman said. "I don't know why my vote is being rejected and I'm mad about it."

The lawsuit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court against Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown and Multnomah County Elections Director Tim Scott.

Both Scott and the Secretary of State's office declined to comment, saying they still are reviewing the lawsuit.

The No on 92 Coalition will vigorously oppose the lawsuit, treasurer Pat McCormick said.

"The counties have nearly completed a thorough recount, ballot by ballot, to ensure that every legal vote was properly counted and accounted for. So far, there has been virtually no change in the results," McCormick said.

"The proponents of the measure don't like the outcome, so now they want the court to change Oregon's election system just for them," he said.

Measure 92 lost by just 812 votes last month, triggering an automatic hand recount.

Counties began that count on Dec. 2 and are expected to finish by Wednesday.

With 22 of Oregon's counties completing their tallies, the measure's opponents have gained two votes.

Measure 92 would require most raw and processed food sold in Oregon to carry a label if it contains genetically modified ingredients.

It was the most expensive ballot measure in state history, with a total of $30 million raised.

Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal

 

Comments are closed
Log in