Nearman/Miller v. Rosenblum

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Ballot Titles
  • Date Filed: 03-24-2016
  • Case #: S063789
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J., for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 250.035, a ballot title must contain a caption, summary, and result statements of the measure. The caption must reasonably identify the subject matter of the measure, which includes the actual effect of the measure, ORS 250.035(2)(a); the summary must provide voters with enough information to know what will happen if the measure is approved, ORS 250.035(2)(d); and the result statements must explain in simple and understandable terms the result of approving the measure. ORS 250.035(2)(b).

Petitioners sought review of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Proposal 51 (2016) (IP 51), arguing that the ballot title did not meet the requirements of ORS 250.035(2). Petitioners’ argued, generally, that the ballot title’s caption, summary, and result statements were legally insufficient, because they did not state that the proposed changes to Oregon voter registration laws applied to federal elections as well. Under ORS 250.035(2)(a), the caption for the ballot title must reasonably identify the “subject matter” of the measure, which is “the actual major effect of the measure.” Under ORS 250.035(2)(d), the summary of the measure must provide voters with enough information to understand what will happen if the measure is approved, and is not to speculate possible effects of the measure. Further, under ORS 250.035(2)(b), the “yes/no” result statements must describe “in simple and understandable terms” the result of approving the measure. The Court held that the Attorney General’s caption did not comply with ORS 250.035(2) because it failed to state that IP 51 applies to federal elections as well as state and local elections. The ballot title is referred to the Attorney General for modification.

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