PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a petition to bypass state-required signatures to qualify as a ballot measure its proposal for 17 counties to divorce from Oregon and become part of Idaho.
U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane ruled Monday that the group Move Oregon’s Border was not “reasonably diligent” in attempting to collect signatures, even amid the unusual limitations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Oregonian reported the judge found that Move Oregon’s Border provided scant evidence of a conscientious effort to obtain signatures thus far.
The plaintiffs only held one rally, in Roseburg on March 7, collecting 389 signatures. The group also pointed to the approximately 9,195 members on its Facebook group, the judge noted.
The state mandates petitioners obtain a minimum number of signatures in order to qualify for the ballot. But Move Oregon’s Border had argued COVID-19 restrictions had made the usual methods of signature gathering impossible.
“Holding one rally, collecting less than 400 signatures, and hosting a Facebook page does not constitute reasonable diligence when compared with other initiative proponents,” the judge ruled.
McShane said he doesn’t believe the federal courts should rewrite state election rules, particularly on the eve of an election.