Voters reject top-two primaries, driver's cards, college fund

Seven state measures were on the Oregon ballot this Election Day. Measure 91, which would legalize recreational marijuana, and Measure 92, which would require labeling of GMO foods, received the most attention. However, the five other ballot measures could have affected the lives of many Oregonians, including independent voters, women, those who want to go to college, those who can't prove U.S. citizenship.


Note: Results as of 11 p.m. Tuesday 

Measure 86 — College fund

For: 400,739, 40.99% Against: 576,860, 59.01%

Oregon voters have rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed the state to take on debt for student financial aid.

The measure that was voted down Tuesday was championed by Democratic State Treasurer Ted Wheeler.

It would have created an endowment that could be used only for student financial aid. And it would have allowed the state to sell bonds to fill it.

Wheeler says the fund would have provided a dedicated and growing resource to support student financial aid as college costs rapidly rise.

Critics questioned the use of debt, which traditionally has been incurred only to pay for construction projects.

There was little spending on either side.


Measure 87 — Judicial jobs

For: 544,788, 56.35% Against: 421,955, 43.65%

Oregon judges will now be able to serve in the National Guard or teach at the University of Oregon law school.

Voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure amending the state constitution to ease up on separation of powers requirements.

Oregon's constitution has long said a single person cannot hold a position in more than one branch of government. That meant judges could not serve for pay in the military and could teach only at private law schools.

The measure was put on the ballot by state lawmakers, not signature-gathering petitioners. It received very little publicity and virtually no campaigning on either side.


Measure 88 — Driver's cards

For: 329,645, 32.63% Against: 680,473, 67.37%

Oregon voters on Tuesday rejected a measure that would have allowed people who cannot prove their legal status in the United States to get four-year driver's cards.

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a state law last year granting the cards, but an interest group put the measure up for a vote.

Oregon became the first state to turn the issue of immigrant driver's cards to voters.

Supporters said the bill would make streets safer by forcing people to learn the rules of the road and get insurance. They noted the cards can't be used to vote or get benefits, like boarding a plane, getting government benefits or buying firearms.

It would have allowed immigrants and others to apply for the driver's cards if they have lived in Oregon for at least a year and meet other requirements. The measure was aimed mainly at Oregon's tens of thousands of immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Opponents, including 28 of the state's 36 sheriffs, argued granting the driver's cards would reward illegal behavior and facilitate crime.

"People understand that putting a state-issued photo ID in the hands of people in our country illegally just doesn't make sense," said Cynthia Kendoll, spokeswoman for Oregonians for Immigration Reform. "It didn't add up to a good plan for Oregon."

The Pew Hispanic Center said about 160,000 immigrants who are in the country illegally live in Oregon.



Measure 89 — Equal Rights Amendment

For: 616,943, 63.02%  Against: 362,018, 36.98%

Oregon voters have approved an equal rights amendment.

The passage of Measure 89 means the Oregon Constitution will have a new section saying the "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the State of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex."

Supporters say the proposal gives Oregon women a stronger safeguard against discrimination.

Though there was no organized opposition, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon said it opposed "symbolic" changes to the constitution. The group says the constitution already includes language that prohibits gender-based discrimination.

More than 20 other states have equal rights amendments in their constitutions.


Measure 90 — Top-two primary

For: 321,779, 32.67% Against: 663,119, 67.33%

Oregon voters on Tuesday rejected a big change to the state's primary election system.

They voted down Measure 90, a proposal to scrap Oregon's current primary-election system in favor of a "top-two" format.

Currently, only Democrats vote in the Democratic primary, and only Republicans vote in the Republican primary. In a top-two system, all primary candidates are on single ballot, and all registered voters can participate. The top two vote-getters then advance to the general election, even if they are from the same party.

Oregonians trounced a similar idea in 2008. Supporters raised more money this time around, with Houston billionaire John Arnold and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg each contributing more than $1 million. At least $4.6 million was raised in support of the measure, while $1.4 million was raised in opposition.

Neighboring California and Washington both use the top-two system.

Backers said it's only fair to allow independent voters to have a say in the May primary. By doing so, they said, moderate candidates would have a better chance of being elected because Republicans and Democrats would need to broaden their appeal beyond their partisan bases.

The major political parties, Oregon Right to Life and labor unions opposed the measure.

Primary voters tend to be wealthier than those who vote in the general election, and the unions argued business groups want those voters to narrow the field for November. Oregon Right to Life, meanwhile, said backers of the measure hate that anti-abortion candidates do extremely well in Republican primaries.

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