The vote by mail and insufficient postage spat in Oregon: Big Pot Money, Signature Gathering, and More!

I have been asked to weigh in by a number of my colleagues after Dan Meek alerted the widely read Election Law listserv of communications between Steve Trout, the Director of Elections in Oregon, and the Postmaster General regarding Oregon ballots with insufficient postage.

What I told the emailers, and Rick when he was in town on Saturday, is that there is a backstory here.  It may not speak to the specifics of the postage question, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

Now Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian is on the story, as is a local television station, so I’ll lay the rest out for readers to evaluate.  It’s a lot more than most of you want to know!

The short story is that Kate Brown, Oregon Secretary of State, is in a fierce race with a Republican challenger.  Oregon Secretaries of State almost never lose, and Brown is likely to win by a small margin.  There is some bad blood between Brown and Meek, and even more between Brown and Robert Wolfe, who is running against Brown on the Progressive Party label.

Things get even murkier–Wolfe runs a company that was collecting petitions for Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act–and Brown’s office has attempted to levy some hefty fines against the company.  Lo and behold, Wolfe has now appeared on the ballot. This may seem humorous to my readers outside this region, but there is no joking the millions of dollars that marijuana growing interests have spent in Oregon, by some reports defeating the odds-on favorite to be our next Attorney General, and have been sinking into campaigns for legalization in both Oregon and Washington.

What does this all have to do about ballots with insufficient postage?  I have no idea, but the vitriol between Meek, Wolfe, Seth Wooley (Libertarian candidate for SoS), and Brown surrogates is pretty fierce.   A small sampling (make sure you scroll down to read the comments): (this one was authored by ex SoS Bill Bradbury)