- Court: Oregon Supreme Court
- Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
- Date Filed: 12-30-2021
- Case #: S068382
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Balmer, J. for the Court; En Banc
- Full Text Opinion
The Secretary of State (Fagan) appealed a reversal of a trial court summary judgment by the Court of Appeals. Initially, Whitehead appealed summary judgement from the trial court that signatures from voters with inactive registration may not count towards the total signatures for an initiatives petition. After submitting an initiative petition to the Secretary of State, who subsequently excluded inactive voters from the signature tally, the secretary determined that the initiative petition failed to meet the required amount of signatures to qualify for the ballot. The Court of Appeals reversed on the basis that Article IV, section 1, for a signature to be counted under the initiative petition, must be "registered to vote under Oregon law" and remain registered until their registration is cancelled; therefore inactive voters still are registered. Article IV, section 1(2)(b) of the Oregon Constitution provides that only signatures of "qualified voters" count towards the number required to propose an initiative law; those qualified voters must "[b]e registered" and be an active voter. The court held that the constitutional interpretation of "qualified voters" for signing an initiative petition are those who, by virtue of meeting the requirements of Article II, section 2, are "qualified" as having complied with the requirements and are eligible to vote; and any voter that is "presently eligible to vote" can "have their signature on an initiative petition counted." Therefore the Court held that the requirement allowed signatures to be excluded on the basis that those voters failed to maintain their registration and were not qualified to vote. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The judgment of the circuit court is affirmed.