The Oregon Voters’ Pamphlet for the May 20 primary has arrived. It is a source of lots of helpful information, even though the material submitted by candidates often raises more questions than it answers.
The secretary of state prints the candidate statements exactly as they are submitted except for fixing the spelling in cases where a word as submitted is not in the dictionary. This is helpful because it tells you something about candidates. If you like your office holders to be more or less familiar with grammar and punctuation, for instance, you can use their pamphlet entries to evaluate them on that score.
The pamphlet is no substitute for listening to candidates, or to questioning them face to face. I had a chance to do just that with Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Jo Rae Perkins of Albany on KGAL’s “Valley Talk” hosted by Jeff McMahon on Wednesday. It’s always fun to hear Perkins let fly with her strong opinions. Her chances in the state GOP primary may be small, but there’s no doubt she’s an energetic campaigner, having driven her bright yellow Corvette to events all over the state.
All five contenders for the GOP nomination to face Democrat Jeff Merkley in November have statements in the pamphlet. You can read them to get a feeling of how much sense they make in general, or how closely if at all they represent your own points of view.
The pamphlet has another virtue: By explaining in detail what it takes to register as a voter, it sheds light on the controversy over voter-ID laws in other states. Oregon requires would-be voters to swear they are U.S. citizens, but that’s about all. If people can’t supply a driver’s license or social security number to prove their identity, they can submit copies of a paycheck stub or a utility bill. Having no ID bars them from voting in federal elections, but they can still vote in state and local ones.
In most elections, half or more of the eligible citizens don’t take the trouble to take part. And it seems very unlikely to me that non-citizens would risk the potential penalties — fines of up to $125,000 and prison terms up to five years, probably followed by deportation — just in order to take part in an exercise that many eligible citizens ignore. (hh)
Voters must be registered by April 29 to vote in the 2014 primary election, which will end on May 20.