Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. What was an initiative is now the Equal Vote Campaign. As I was putting the finishing touches on the new web site landing page, I saw this super cool pendant worn by a coworker. Sort of looks like the Unified Primary logo in full bloom, which is a nice metaphor for the idea of equality in the vote.
See, I actually drafted and submitted five different initiative petitions to the state this cycle, and they all had the same basic idea: it's time for us to be equal in the vote so that we can diminish the partisan and special interest manipulations that plague our governing bodies and prevent them from enacting the will of the People.
The first was the one my brother and I wrote two years back. We didn't even gather sponsorship signatures for that one because Legislative Counsel and Dan Meek pointed out some obvious flaws. The next version, IP 38 aka the Approval Voting Primary, garnered its first 1197 sponsorship signatures through the hard work of volunteers in the rain and winter snow. IP 51, the Fair And Unified Elections Act fixed a few more flaws and was circulated by the grace of our first "your lack of planning is not my emergency" funder.
The last two versions Jim Kelly and I drafted were IP #54 and IP #55: the Unified and Oregon Open Primary Initiatives respectively. There was some concern raised that with the amount of change explicitly required by IP #54 that the ballot title would be difficult for voters to understand. IP #55 is simpler, and leaves the implementation of vote equality within the open field primary as an exercise for the Legislature, when by the measure's directive they must take up the implementation of all of the conforming legal code amendments.
Ultimately there was some disagreement amongst petitioners about which initiatives to move forward with; I preferred the version that explicitly defined the operation of the equal vote (although there are actually several different systems that could qualify), and so pushed forward with a volunteer signature drive. Others preferred the version with the simpler, clearer title, and so that version was ultimately selected for a separate signature drive, despite the concern that lack of specificity would introduce the risk that equality would not be implemented properly.
But make no mistake: the intent behind all of the measures is the same, and it is clearly stated three times in IP #55 itself. It's time for all voters to be equal in all elections. That doesn't just mean eliminating the partisan exclusion inequality that shuts out half of the electorate. It also means eliminating the spoiler effect inequality that compels us to support only the more tolerable of the two candidates most beholden to the money.
So on Independence Day we launched the Equal Vote Campaign into summer's bloom. Our goal is to educate our friends and our 2015 representatives on the meaning of voter equality, so that when we cast our ballots in November we'll send a clear signal that the equal vote is another significant Oregon first.
We hope you'll join us.