Circulated voters’ guide is NOT official, but is NOT illegal, county says

By Erin Tierney

The Creswell Chronicle

Last week, residents with a 97426 zip code received a voters’ pamphlet for the upcoming Nov. 7 election in their mailboxes. Though it appears official, this in an unofficial document that was created and circulated by Keep it Creswell, a group in opposition to Measure 20-280, an initiative to lift the prohibition of marijuana retailers in Creswell.

The City of Creswell did not produce a voters’ pamphlet for this election, nor did Lane County, but the unofficial pamphlet did not actually violate any laws, election officials said.

“The unofficial voters’ pamphlet does not violate any law or legislation because House Bill 2349 did not actually pass through both legislative changes,” Cheryl Betschart with the Lane County Elections Office told The Chronicle. “This (bill) addressed imitation voters’ pamphlets.”

House Bill 2349 would have prohibited printing or circulation of imitation voters’ pamphlets unless the pamphlet is clearly marked as unofficial.

“Since House Bill 2349 did not pass, there is nothing that would stop a group or individual from distributing an unofficial voters’ pamphlet,” Eric Jorgensen of Oregon Elections Division said. “ORS 260.695 places restrictions on imitation or sample ballots only.”

The bill was filed at the request of former Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, and would require a person who prints or circulates an imitation voters’ pamphlet to meet a number of requirements. If the bill were to pass, among those requirements the pamphlet would have had to contain the phrase “THIS IS NOT THE OFFICIAL VOTERS’ PAMPHLET” in bold print that is at least 36-point type. The word “UNOFFICIAL” would have to have been superimposed on each page of the imitation voters’ pamphlet so that the word extends diagonally across the voters’ pamphlet from one margin of text to the other.

This pamphlet was circulated to residents both in and outside the city limits. Only residents within the city limits will be able to vote on Measure 20-280.