Measure 31

Explanatory Statement

Ballot Measure 31 amends the Oregon Constitution to allow the Legislative Assembly to enact laws that postpone an election for an elective public office if a candidate nominated for that office dies before the election. Current law does not allow the postponement of an election when a nominee for public office dies before the election.

Most elections in Oregon are conducted by mail. Under current law, if a candidate nominated for public office dies after ballots have been mailed to voters, the name of a new nominee is not required to be printed on any replacement ballot. If the candidate who has died receives the highest number of votes, either the incumbent holding the office remains until a successor is elected and qualified or a vacancy in the office results. For most public offices, vacancies are filled by appointment.

Ballot Measure 31 allows the Legislative Assembly to pass laws that change this result. The laws would apply only in cases when a candidate nominated for elective public office dies before the election and would provide that: (1) The regularly scheduled election for that office be postponed; (2) The office be filled at a subsequent special election; and (3) Votes cast for candidates for the office at the regularly scheduled election may not be considered, and the surviving candidates must stand for and campaign for a subsequent special election.

Ballot Measure 31 is needed to provide exceptions to other provisions of the Oregon Constitution that state that the person who receives the highest number of votes is elected and that require certain offices to be filled at the general election.

At its 2003 regular session, the Legislative Assembly passed a law that will take effect only if Ballot Measure 31 is approved by the people. The law applies only to candidates nominated by a major political party for the office of Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Attorney General, state Senator or state Representative. If a candidate nominated by a major political party for one of those offices dies within 30 days of a November general election, the election for that office only will be postponed. The Secretary of State will call a subsequent special election and the ballots cast for that office at the November general election may not be counted.

Committee Members / Appointed by

Senator Rick Metsger / President of the Senate
Representative Betsy Close / Speaker of the House
Representative Bill Garrard / Secretary of State
Representative Wayne Krieger / Secretary of State
Representative Cliff Zauner / Members of the Committee

(This committee was appointed to provide an impartial explanation of the ballot measure pursuant to ORS 251.215.)