A lawsuit charging that Secretary of State Kate Brown improperly invalidated thousands of signatures on a proposed ballot measure to legalize marijuana was filed in Marion County Circuit Court Wednesday. Robert Wolfe, the chief petitioner for the marijuana initiative, charged that Brown’s actions unfairly denied his initiative a spot on the November ballot despite his turning in 170,000 signatures — far more than the 116, 284 valid signatures required. State Elections Director Stephen Trout, defended the secretary of state’s handling of the marijuana initiative, saying that officials are following long-established procedures based on state law. However, the lawsuit could result in the first major legal test of the state government’s handling of ballot measures since Brown put tougher regulations on paid petition gathering after taking office in 2009.
… Wolfe’s attorney Ross Day, who has worked on several conservative initiative campaigns, charged in the lawsuit that thousands of signatures were invalidated because of minor clerical errors made by petitioners. Several thousand signatures were also tossed out because voters were deemed inactive by local officials for unspecified reasons, he said. Day also argued that petitioners should have had the chance to submit new signatures from voters who had their previous signatures knocked out for such things as petitioner errors.
Trout said petitioners can follow procedures to correct errors to avoid invalidating all of the signatures on a sheet. And he said election officials do keep track of the large number of reasons why a voter can be declared inactive. Lastly, he said state law forbids a voter from knowingly signing a petition twice, so petitioners can’t get someone to sign again if their signature has been invalidated. Trout also disputed the notion that Brown was trying to limit access to the ballot.