“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and this world,” author Sharon Salzberg wrote. Between now and Tuesday, Nov. 4, Oregonians who share this commitment will take to the polls to vote in the midterm general elections. Positions on the ballot range from governor to district representative. Among the seven measures up for vote are a fund for Oregonians pursuing post-secondary education and the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Incumbents in the Senate, governor and 4th Congressional District representative races are all expected to retain their seats. Governor John Kitzhaber (D) is currently serving in his third term. A recent poll by electionprojection.com showed Kitzhaber leading by 10 percent over his nearest rival Dennis Richardson (R).
Senator Jeff Merkley (D) was first elected in 2008, defeating Gordon Smith. A recent electionprojection.com poll showed Merkley leading by 16.5 percent over Monica Wehby (R).
Oregon’s 4th Congressional District representative Peter DeFazio, in office since 1987, is also defending his seat in the election.
Of the measures on the ballot, Measures 90, 91 and 92 have received the most attention.
Supported by both the Democratic and Republican parties, Measure 90 would change the electoral nomination process to the same system used by Washington and California. Under this system, all candidates for office would be listed on a single primary ballot, and only the top two would advance to the general election.
This means that instead of having multiple candidates in the general election from all political parties, there would only be two candidates to choose from. Candidates with the most votes in the May primaries would advance. “I don’t agree with that, because I feel like the other parties, the minority parties, represent a good majority of the voice of people. I don’t myself agree with the Democrat or Republican party,” Freshman Ian Vouros-Callahan, renewable energy major, said.
Opponents assert that under the measure, minor parties would become even less visible than they are now, since they would only be on the ballot in the primary elections which historically have had a much smaller turnout than the general election. The 2012 primaries received a turnout of 38.98 percent, while the general election received a turnout of 82.80 percent, more than twice as large.
Spending by Measure 90 supporters vastly outweighs that of their opponents. Nevertheless, a poll by DHM Research suggests a close race, with 36 percent in favor, 38 percent opposed, and 26 percent undecided. Approximately $1.4 million has been spent on measure 90. Of that, $1.2 million has come from supporters and $230,000 from opponents of the measure.
The legalization of marijuana is a hot issue across the country. It’s no different in Oregon. Measure 91 would allow the possession, in-state manufacture, processing and sale of marijuana.
Many LCC students support this measure. “I think that the police force can be doing more useful things like going after serious drugs and violent crimes,” art major Kathrine Herrington said.
So far $1.1 million has been put into this measure, almost all coming from supporters. People are closely divided on the measure, however, with 44 percent in favor, 46 percent opposed and 7 percent unsure according to a poll conducted between Oct. 26-27 by independent Seattle polling firm Elway Research.
Measure 92, perhaps the most talked about measure, would require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms. If successful, retailers will be forced to label any raw and packaged foods that were produced entirely or partially by genetic engineering. The law would go into effect Jan. 2016.
Supporters of the measure argue that people have the right to know if GMOs are in their food, while opponents argue that it will increase production costs. “Big companies like to try to scare people a little bit and it’s already been proven it doesn’t truly increase cost. However if done wrong it will hurt more than do good,” Trevor Jones, mechanical engineering major, said.
The Measure 92 campaign is the costliest in Oregon’s history, with more than $17 million spent to date. Most of this money has come from out of state. The vote on this measure may be close. A poll from DHM Research conducted between Oct. 8 and Oct. 11 showed 49 percent in favor, 44 percent opposed and 7 percent undecided, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Oregon has a vote by mail system and people have already received their ballots and voters’ pamphlets. The pamphlet contains candidate profiles and the full text of each measure with arguments in favor and in opposition. Ballots must be received at the Lane County Election Office or any of the designated ballot drop sites located around town by 8 p.m. on election night. The Lane County Clerk’s office is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for help with issues and submitting ballots.
To find drop site locations, go to: http://www.sos.state.or.us/dropbox/