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Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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Attorney General Myers and Secretary of State Bradbury Announce Sentencing Agreement and Make Recommendations on Signing Initiative Petitions

May 9, 2002

Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the plea agreement and sentencing of an Oregon initiative petition circulator. Myers and Secretary of State Bill Bradbury also issued an alert to voters identifying protections against signature petition fraud.

In Multnomah County court, James Gurga plead guilty to one felony count of signing a petition in another name, and a misdemeanor count of forgery in the second degree. As part of the plea agreement, Gurga was sentenced to two years probation during which he is prohibited from gathering signatures in Oregon or any other state; a $1,500 fine; 100 hours of community service; and an agreement to cooperate fully with Department of Justice officials in any other petition fraud investigations. Gurga is the second petition circulator to be sentenced within the last three months.

"The initiative process has a significant, and in some cases permanent, impact on our state's laws and Constitution." Myers said. "It is critical that we protect the integrity of this process."

In addition to announcing the sentencing, Myers and Secretary of State Bill Bradbury alerted voters to common scams perpetrated by fraudulent circulators and simple steps voters can take to help reduce the risks of being victimized.

"With the advent of paid signature gathering, we have seen some unsavory characters out there taking advantage of the initiative process to make a quick buck," said Bradbury. "We are cracking down on fraud, but we need Oregonians' help. Your signature shouldn't only be valuable to the people who are paid to gather it - it should be valuable to you. I urge all Oregonians to treat your signature as carefully as you do your vote."

Common forms of petition circulating fraud include:

  • Forgery;
  • Misrepresentation of the intent or subject of the ballot measure and
  • Collecting signatures from non-voters.

Oregonians can protect themselves by following these simple strategies:

  • Read the petition. The ballot title and a thorough measure summary drafted by the Attorney General mustaccompany everysignature sheet. This is the only way to be absolutely sure you know what you are signing.
  • Only registered voters may sign initiative petitions. If you are not a registered voter and are a citizen of Oregon, you may register by contacting the Secretary of State's office.
  • Fill out the entire signature sheet. The law only requires you to sign the sheet, but handwriting your name and address reduces the chances that your name can be forged.
  • Only one signature is allowed for each measure. Oregon law allows each voter to sign each petition only once. Additionally, Oregon law only requires one signature per initiative. If you are asked to sign multiple sheets, you are probably signing on to multiple measures.
  • Finally, if you believe you have been the victim of initiative petition fraud, you may report the incident to the Secretary of State, Elections Division.

For more information on election laws, you can visit the Secretary of State's website at www.sos.state.or.us.

Contact:

Kristen Grainger or Kevin Neely, Department of Justice, (503) 378-6002 |
Marian Hammond, Secretary of State, (503) 986-1502 |
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