Democrats in the Oregon House must think that voters are basically stupid. Or rather, they are counting on enough of them to be dumb enough to be fooled by the trick they pulled Thursday.
The House voted, with Republicans opposed, to rewrite the ballot title of a referendum on granting driving permits to people who can’t prove their legal presence in the United States, which translates to “illegal aliens” or “undocumented immigrants” or whatever term is more politically correct.
The legislature passed a bill to that effect last year, but opponents gathered enough signatures to block it until the voters as a whole have a chance to decide. That will happen in November.
The attorney general’s ballot title for the referendum said the bill “provides Oregon resident ‘driver card’ without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States.” It’s not elegant but factually correct. But the backers of the original bill don’t want casual voters — who know nothing of the controversy until they see the ballot title — to get any clue that this involves illegal immigrants.
So the House majority voted to have the ballot title to say the bill “establishes limited purpose, duration driver card for individuals who prove Oregon residency, meet driving requirements.” Besides being pidgin English, that title is false. The bill’s main effect is not to provide a driver card to people who prove they live in Oregon and meet “driving requirements.” Everybody who gets a regular driver’s license has to prove he lives in Oregon and meet requirements. Under this bill the only people who would get a “driver card” instead are those who can’t prove they live in Oregon and the United States legally.
Allowing established Oregon residents to apply for driving privileges even though they lack legal immigration papers actually is a sound idea. It likely would have many benefits. But House Democrats don’t trust people to agree with the reasoned arguments in favor of such a change. So they resort to tricky language.
Any voter fluent in English would be puzzled by this convoluted and intentionally misleading ballot title. Fooling uninformed voters — that’s what this language change is intended to achieve. (hh)