Driver cards referendum qualifies for 2014 ballot

Article author: 
Carol McAlice Currie
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Article date: 
Friday, October 18, 2013
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
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Members of the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform were quietly celebrating Friday after learning that the Oregon Secretary of State’s office had officially qualified Referendum No. 301 for the November 2014 ballot.

The OFIR group believes residents, not lawmakers, should decide whether the state should issue driver-privilege cards to individuals without required documentation such as a U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport.

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 833 into law in May after a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and interested parties joined forces to create safer roads. The bill authorized the issuance of driver-privilege cards beginning in January, but the referendum’s qualification means the new law won’t go into effect as planned.

Cynthia Kendoll, president of OFIR, said she was pleased with the outcome of the process. She said volunteers had only a few months to gather signatures, and worked diligently to ensure that the people of Oregon would have a say on what OFIR believes is de facto immigration policy.

The group turned in 71,000 signatures gathered throughout the summer during drive-through efforts and at places such as the Capitol building steps, the state fair and Center 50+.

“We are delighted,” Kendoll said. “We really turned in the valedictorian of signature-gathering efforts. We passed with the first sample, which is terrific. It was so clean – they didn’t find any duplicate signatures in the sample.”

Summer Davis, compliance specialist with the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s office, and Tony Green, a spokesman for Secretary of State Kate Brown, confirmed that many ballot measures that go on to qualify for the ballot often don’t succeed on the first sample, which contains 1,000 signatures.

Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, which was part of the coalition that helped pass SB-833, said the qualification wasn’t exactly a surprise.

He predicted that the faith communities, law enforcement agencies and farming communities that worked together with lawmakers in a bipartisan fashion to pass this year’s bill, would rally to help pass the referendum. As No. 301 is written, if residents vote “yes” on the referendum, the law created by SB-833 will go into effect 30 days after the election next year. If voters reject the referendum, driver privilege cards will not be issued in Oregon.

“My hope is that these groups will provide volunteers and thoughtful leaders who offer rational conversation, and that they will help put together a good communications plan to help Oregon make a sensible decision and see this referendum for what it is,” Stone said. “I do know the nursery and greenhouse industries will vigorously defend this good piece (SB-833) of public-safety legislation.”