Nader Loses Oregon Ballot Appeal
Byline: David Steves The Register-Guard
SALEM - The Oregon Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Ralph Nader will not appear on the Oregon presidential ballot, capping weeks of political and legal sparring and potentially helping Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
The high court reversed a Sept. 9 decision by a trial judge in Salem that Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and his Elections Division had erred in declaring Nader ineligible because of technical flaws in how petition sheets were filled out.
The Supreme Court decision arrived less than an hour before Bradbury's elections director, John Lindback, was to give the green light to all 36 county elections offices to start printing ballots. Had the high court not ruled in time, Lindback said, he was prepared to instruct counties to print ballots with Ralph Nader as a presidential candidate - but to be ready to revise them if the court ruled later.
The unanimous ruling upheld Bradbury's and Lindback's contentions that they had a legal obligation to interpret and apply laws and rules on how petitioners filled out signature sheets as a way to guard against fraud.
Nader said the decision would be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
`This is a sad day for democracy in America,' he said in a statement issued after the ruling. `It is evident that our independent presidential campaign has greatly stressed a corrupt exclusionary system and that the Democratic Party will stop at nothing to deny voters the opportunity to vote for our candidacy.'
Anne Martens, a spokeswoman for Bradbury, hailed the state high court's ruling.
"We are very pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the ability of the secretary of state to prevent fraud," Martens said.
Democrats and other Kerry supporters have opposed Nader's presence on the ballot as a potential spoiler. Even if Nader were to draw only 1 percent to 3 percent of the vote that might otherwise go to Kerry, it could be enough to swing the advantage to President Bush. Republicans have encouraged placing Nader's name on the ballot, and some Republicans helped gather signatures for Nader.
Jim Edmunson, chairman of the Democratic Party of Oregon, said the court made the correct ruling based on the legal questions surrounding the authority of the secretary of state to protect the integrity of the Oregon ballot - regardless of the potential candidate involved. …