There's good news and bad news from the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, OCTA 2012. The good: OCTA has received the endorsement and support of Oregon's largest private sector union, the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 555, and their 18,000-plus members. On Thursday, June 14, UFCW Local 555's board of directors voted unanimously to endorse the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act initiative.
"We are working with their leadership to mobilize their membership to sign and circulate the petitions," said OCTA 2012 sponsor Paul Stanford "Thank you UFCW Local 555!"
"Yesterday, with the UFCW's support, we mailed over 12,000+ letters to Oregon's most progressive voters, to people who have voted in every election for the last four years and that we have their phone number," Stanford said. "We were able to utilize the Oregon Democratic Party voter database to target people most likely to sign and return OCTA petitions.
The Weed Blog Paul Stanford, sponsor of OCTA 2012: "Our paid petition team continues to grow and improve"
"With UFCW support, a professional phone bank has started to call the 13,500 voters in these 12,000-plus households to make sure they received our petitions and that they sign and mail them back right away," Stanford said. "The phone bank will call each household three times a day over this weekend and early next week, until they reach one of our mailed petition recipients and get their response."
From May 25 through June 15, OCTA 2012 gathered 30,000 more signatures, according to Stanford, who said the campaign had now gathered 135,000 total signatures. "We need 87,213 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures to turn in to the Oregon Secretary of State's office by Friday, July 6th to put OCTA on the November ballot," Stanford said.
"Our paid petition team continues to grow and improve. A team of four of us went to Salem last week to learn why petitions and signatures are being rejected," Stanford said. "Based upon this knowledge, we are now screening all petitions and all paid petitioners at their weekly turn-in to make sure that everything is properly filled out.
"Since a few other initiatives have concluded their petition drive, we have been able to hire other professional petition crews to gather OCTA signatures," Stanford said. "We have new crews of experienced petitioners in several locations throughout Oregon. If you see them, please show them some love."
The Bad News: More Than 40% Of Signatures Rejected
More than 40 percent of the signatures that OCTA submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division have been invalidated, according to Stanford.
"Under Oregon law, we met the Secretary of State's early submission rule by having more than the minimum 87,213 signatures needed to qualify for a vote and submitted by their May 25th deadline," Stanford said. "That means that the state started to go through and validate the signatures submitted.
Of the 107,992 unverified OCTA signatures, 12,436 were rejected before the verification process, leaving 95,556 unverified signatures, according to Stanford.
"The vast majority of these were rejected due to circulator errors, such as not signing the circulator statement at the bottom of the sheet the way they had signed it on their state registration form, or not properly dating it, or from paid petitioners not being properly registered with the state when they were gathering signatures," Stanford said. "We also notified the state of circulator forgeries, and several paid petitioners are being prosecuted for forgery.
"From those 95,556 signatures that the Secretary of State said had been properly endorsed by the circulator, they ran a statistical sample of 5,001 signatures to determine the amount of valid signatures we turned in before May 25th," Stanford said. "They determined that 55,869 were found to be valid, for a validity of 58.47 percent."
According to Stanford, the state found 25 duplicates in their sample of 5,001 signatures. "Each duplicate found means that 400 signatures are statistically removed from the valid signature count," he said. This removed almost 10,000 signatures from the 95,556 signatures being validated.
The state then invalidated 29,687 more signatures because either they were not registered to vote, or they had moved when they signed, or the signature did not match the one on their voter registration card. Almost half of these were invalidated due to the state saying the voter had moved.
"We can litigate the state's determination of invalidity," Stanford said. "If the state says that in the end, next month in July, that we fell short, and we know that we should have qualified if not for improperly invalidated voters, such as those ten thousands removed due to circulator error, and/or the ten-plus thousands removed because the state says that the voter had moved, then we will go to court to make sure those signatures are counted.
"However, it is much better to just get more signatures and have the state say we qualified by the July 6th deadline with sufficient signatures to have OCTA put on the ballot for a vote this November," Stanford said. "We shall overcome. Restore hemp!"