Taking Shots at TABOR: Protestants' Attorney Says 120,000 Signatures May Be Invalid; Proponents Say Challenge Methods Flawed, Predict Victory

Article excerpt

Evidence shows that more than 120,000 of the almost 300,000 signatures on petitions seeking a vote on a Taxpayer Bill of Rights law are invalid and should be stricken, an attorney for TABOR opponents told an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee Thursday.

Attorney Kent Meyers said that more than 50,000 signers were not registered to vote when they signed the petition.

Meyers said several thousand other signatures are invalid because the petition circulator who obtained them was not a state resident, which is required by law.

In order to keep the TABOR petition off the ballot, opponents must disqualify 79,466 signatures.

To be put to a vote of the people, a proposed constitutional amendment must garner at least 219,564 valid voter signatures.

A TABOR law limits growth in state government spending to the combined rates of inflation and population growth, with part of any savings being rebated to taxpayers.

Meyers told referee Greg Albert that many circulators either signed petition affidavits giving out-of-state addresses or listed addresses and/or driver's licenses from other states when registering at Oklahoma hotels.

Meyers pointed to examples of addresses in California, Washington, Colorado, Missouri, Texas, Florida and other states.

He said others, whom he designated stealth circulators, were not registered at any hotel.

We think that's an independent grounds for disqualification, Meyers said.

Meyers said thousands of signatures should be disqualified for the following reasons:

* 1,700 due to out-of-state circulator addresses on petitions.

* 13,306 due to out-of-state addresses on hotel registries.

* 24,023 because circulators listed Oklahoma hotels as addresses, but were not registered at the hotels.

* 8,857 due to out-of-state addresses in notary logs.

* 3,282 because of out-of-state IDs in notary logs.

* 17,162 due to out-of-state addresses on IRS 1099 forms.

* 7,267 due to invalid notarizations.

Meyers pointed to a Nov. 29, 2005, e-mail from Susan Johnson of National Voter Outreach, the parent company of the petition circulating group, referring to our Missouri crew and a Dec. 6, 2005, memo promising to have 62 pros in the state by Friday.

Johnson's memos were to Rick Carpenter, chairman of Oklahomans in Action, which launched the TABOR drive, and other officials of the organization.

Quoting from the deposition of Linda Howard, head of the Oklahoma City signature drive, who estimated an 86-percent validity rate for signatures, Meyers said this means NVO knowingly submitted 14 percent or almost 42,000 invalid signatures.

Attorney Kieran Maye Jr., appearing on behalf of TABOR proponents, said protestants of an initiative petition need clear and convincing evidence, a heavy standard, to boot signatures from a ballot proposal.

Maye also said some of the protestants' points are the hypertechnical arguments criticized a few years ago in an Oklahoma Supreme Court decision on a petition to ban cockfighting.

Albert was the referee in the cockfighting signature challenge as well.

Maye also took aim at the protestants' contention that some 50,000 signers were not registered voters.

Maye listed several voters whose names he said differed somewhat from the petition signers the protestants said they could not find on registered voter lists. …