Under current law, local governments may ask voters to approve certain local property tax measures to raise money to help fund local government services, such as education, jails, police and fire, libraries and parks. Local governments may also ask voters to approve serial or bond levies to pay for capital projects, such as building new schools, roads, libraries, parks and other public facilities.
Currently, the Oregon Constitution requires that at least 50 percent of qualified voters must vote, and a majority of those voters must approve the measure, in order to pass a local property tax measure. The only exception to the 50 percent turnout requirement is for November elections held in even-numbered years.
Under the 50 percent voter turnout requirement, often referred to as a "double majority" requirement, non-votes have the effect of a "no" vote if less than 50 percent of qualified voters participate in the election. An example demonstrates how current law works. Assume:
Number of qualified voters in jurisdiction: 1,000,000
Voters who voted: 499,999
"Yes" vote: 499,999 (100% of those who voted)
"No" vote: 0
Voters who did not vote: 500,001
Result: Measure fails; non-votes have effect of "no" vote
The voter turnout requirement only applies to certain local property tax measures, such as "local option" taxes, serial levies and bond levies. All other local and state ballot measures are passed if approved by a majority of those who vote, with no voter turnout requirement.
As a result of the voter turnout requirement, many local property tax measures that were approved in past elections by a majority of those voting nonetheless failed, because the voter turnout requirement was not met.
This measure eliminates the voter turnout requirements for property tax elections held in May and November, but keeps the voter turnout requirement for elections held at any other time. As a result, for May and November elections, local property tax measures become law when approved by a majority of those voting.
(This impartial statement explaining the measure was provided by the 2007 Legislature.)