As Oregon Recounts Ballots, GMO Labeling Supporters Slap State with Lawsuit

by | December 11, 2014

By Michelle Brence

Backers of Oregon's Measure 92 to require labeling of genetically altered foods filed a lawsuit Monday claiming that the failure to count about 4,600 ballots disenfranchised voters.

The Yes on Measure 92 campaign says in a news release that the uncounted ballots could be enough to change the outcome. The measure failed Nov. 4 by so few votes -- 812 out of more than 1.5 million cast -- that it's now the subject of a recount.

The supporters are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from certifying recount results, which show the measure failing again by a nearly identical margin.

With 29 of Oregon's 36 counties finished Monday, the recount has turned up 74 more yes votes and 73 more no votes, meaning the overall result has shifted by just one vote.

The lawsuit names Secretary of State Kate Brown and Multnomah County Elections Director Tim Scott. It was filed on behalf of eight voters who allege that their ballots were uncounted because of discrepancies with their signatures.

Measure 92 supporters say elections officials should have informed voters that their signature must match the one on file for their ballot to be counted. They accuse the state of rejecting valid ballots that show no evidence of fraud.

"These votes are simply dumped. They're not believed to be fraudulent. It's a standard put in place out of fear, and it's a burden to voters," Paige Richardson, the measure's campaign manager, said according to The Associated Press.

The measure's opponents disagree. Pat McCormick, treasurer of the No on Measure 92 campaign, said in an email to The Oregonian that opponents would "vigorously oppose" the yes campaign's efforts.

McCormick said the measure's backers are challenging a legal process because they "don't like the outcome, so now they want the court to change Oregon's election system just for them."

Tony Green, Brown's spokesman, told the AP that the Secretary of State's Office is reviewing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit targets "challenge" ballots that were set aside because of discrepancies with the signatures. Voters were notified by letter and given until Nov. 18 to fix their ballot so it could be counted.

The group behind the lawsuit said some of voters did not receive notice and that others were frustrated in attempts to fix their ballot.

(c)2014 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)