Salsgiver/Iannarone v. Rosenblum

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Ballot Titles
  • Date Filed: 05-27-2022
  • Case #: S069381
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Flynn, J. for the Court; En Banc
  • Full Text Opinion

Pursuant to ORS 250.035, a ballot measure’s caption must state its actual major effect and its summary must be an impartial statement outlining the measure’s major effects.

Petitioners challenged Initiative Petition (IP) 41’s ballot title, which proposed to amend Oregon Constitution Article IX, § 9 by prohibiting public bodies from assessing tolls for highway use unless referred to electors for approval. Petitioners claimed IP 41’s caption violated ORS 250.035(2)(a) because it failed to reasonably identify the measure’s subject matter. The court agreed that the ballot’s language made its effect unclear because it didn’t specify that IP 41 would invalidate inoperable tolls by the end of 2017, considering that the ballot used specific language elsewhere. Petitioners also challenged IP 41’s summary because it suggested that existing tolls would stop collecting until they obtained voter approval, when IP 41 would actually accept tolls without voter approval. The court agreed with the Petitioners because the summary failed to comply with ORS 250.035(2)(d) since they did not provide an impartial statement summarizing the measure’s major effects. Petitioners further contended that the “yes” and “no” result statements violated ORS 250.035(2)(c) because it used different terms to refer to the same tolls and could mislead voters. The court disagreed, claiming that voters would unlikely misunderstand the statements. Referred to the Attorney General for modification.

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