Proponents of Oregon's Measure 92, a GMO labeling initiative, are conceding defeat in what had become the most expensive ballot campaign in state history. The proponents from RightToKnow.org were unsuccessful in their lawsuit this week arguing that some 4,600 ballots were illegally left uncounted and should be included in the final tally from the razor-thin November 4th contest.
"Oregonians will never know the true outcome of this election," Paige Richardson, Campaign Director for Yes on 92 said, after a judge rejected the group's attempt to block final certification of the automatic statewide "recount" that followed the extraordinarily close computer-tallied results of the contest.
A hand-count of some 1.5 million hand-marked Vote-by-Mail (VBM) paper ballots cast and previously tallied only by optical-scan computers was triggered after the initially certified margin of defeat for the initiative was just 812 votes, or .02 percent, or just 812 votes. State law requires hand counts for elections with an initial margin of less than .5 percent.
Some 13,000 ballots across Oregon --- which holds its elections only by mail-in ballot --- were rejected and never counted due to signatures on the ballot envelopes judged by election officials to not match those on voter registration cards on file. Voters with signature problems on their ballots are sent a letter to notify them, allowing them two weeks to contact officials to confirm that they were the one to have cast the ballot in question.
Additionally, a new state law requires the Sec. of State to publicly release the names of such voters. That allowed proponents to try and contact those voters to urge them to cure their signature problems with county election officials. 8,600 voters responded and ultimately had their ballots included in the tally, while 4,600 did not. Those 4,600 rejected ballots, more than enough to potentially flip the final results of the election, were left uncounted...