Imagine my surprise when I got home Friday night and looked at the mail. I received a “Secret Straw Ballot” from the “Nelson Report” as a “representative of the average voter.” The enclosure looks like the exact ballot that is not coincidentally being sent to Oregon voters for a special tax election happening right now.
Turns out the “secret straw ballot” was mailed to approximately 50,000 Oregon voters. It was mailed by the leader of the opposition to Ballot Measures 66 and 67, Mark Nelson, as the linked article notes. While Mark Nelson won’t face a fine for sending out fake ballots, Secretary of State Kate Brown admonished him and indicated that her office will tighten regulations in the future.
Most of the focus has been on the ballot itself, but it’s the accompanying card that’s arguably worse. It contains this misleading statement, “The Nelson Report does not advocate the support of any candidate, nor does it advance the affirmative or negative side of any measure.” Mark Nelson leads the ballot measure opposition. I’m supposed to believe that the Nelson Report doesn’t advance his objectives? Please.
It’s fabrication to represent the fake ballot as a poll. No pollster worth his or her salt would use a method like this to gather opinion. None would send it to 50,000 Oregon voters for a state wide ballot measure poll. The results would be garbage because of a selected, non-representative sample, a method that may or may not garner a response, a lack of any control over who responds, and an over-large sample size. These inconsistencies provide strong evidence of Nelson’s true intent.
It’s a hotly contested election. A vocal minority of Oregonians rabidly oppose increased taxes of any kind, for any reason. My own take is that our state is falling apart for lack of revenue. I see it everyday in the number of homeless on the street. I feel it with every tuition increase for my son who attends an “affordable” state university. I hear it with each ever-more depressing report of increased foreclosures and food scarcity. So my own take is clear–we need this.
To be fair, I understand the opposition arguments and don’t presume that anyone opposed to the tax increase is “stupid” or “heartless.” There are people of good will on the other side of this issue. I strongly believe they’re wrong and that they don’t understand the costs and requirements of citizenship, but that doesn’t make the opposition evil.
Still, the opponents–and specifically Mark Nelson–owe us better. So here is a modest plea: How about you run a race on the merits and leave the voter fraud tricks out of it? If only a small percentage of those of us who received the fake ballot confuse it for the real one, a close election is decided on deceit. That’s intolerable.