Drug decriminalization opponents sue over ballot printing error

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Ballots in Washington County had printing errors in four measures, including Measure 110

Someone drops off their ballot at a dropbox while walking their dog. October 18, 2020 (KOIN)

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — Opponents of a controversial drug decriminalization measure are suing to stop ballots from being certified, citing a printing error in Washington County.

Earlier this month, Washington County officials said they failed to recognize printing errors in four statewide measures on the general election ballots. Measures 107, 108, 109 and 110 were printed with the words “Yes” and “No” randomly dropped in the “Result of ‘Yes’ Vote” and “Result of ‘No’ Vote” sections of the ballot.

Four ballot measures have the words “yes” and “no” randomly buried in the “Result of” section (courtesy image, red circles added)

Election officials said the error shouldn’t affect people’s ability to correctly fill in their votes for the measures, but opponents of Measure 110 disagree.

The No on Measure 110 campaign requested new ballots be issued last week. The county declined. Now the campaign says it is suing in Washington County, requesting that the “tainted Measure 110 ballots” not be certified, according to a statement.

The lawsuit only applies to the drug decriminalization measure. The No on Measure 110 campaign said Wednesday it will file a similar lawsuit in Marion County against the Secretary of State. KOIN 6 News reached out to the Secretary of State’s office, which said it does not comment on potential or pending litigation.

Supporters of Measure 110 provided KOIN 6 News a statement saying in part: “Some people are so invested in the status quo that they are trying to throw out votes that have already been cast, questioning the integrity of the election. County election officials and the Secretary of State have already resolved this matter. We think all the votes in Washington County should be counted, and we hope to earn Washington County voters’ support for a more drug addiction
treatment.”

Washington County has the second-most registered voters in the state.

Measure 110 would reclassify personal drug possession to a Class E violation with a maximum $100 fine. It does not affect laws currently in place against people selling or manufacturing illegal drugs. People caught with user-amounts of drugs could get the fine waived by completing a health assessment, during which they could be connected with treatment, recovery and housing services. Those services would also be expanded under Measure 110 and funded with a large chunk of marijuana tax revenue, which is currently used to fund schools, Oregon State Police, and other agencies.

Supporters say it would save lives and families, as well as lighten the load on the criminal justice system. Opponents call it a “trojan horse” measure that would remove the ability for law enforcement to force addicts to get treatment and have devastating consequences on communities and families.

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