2015 ORS 250.085¹
Procedure for elector dissatisfied with ballot title of state measure
  • Supreme Court review of title

(1) Any elector dissatisfied with a ballot title prepared by the Legislative Assembly for a measure referred to the people by the assembly and filed with the Secretary of State may petition the Supreme Court seeking a different title. The petition shall state the reasons that the title filed with the Secretary of State does not substantially comply with the requirements of ORS 250.035 (Form of ballot titles for state and local measures).

(2) Any elector dissatisfied with the latest ballot title for an initiated or referred measure certified by the Attorney General and who timely submitted written comments on the draft ballot title may petition the Supreme Court seeking a different title. The petition shall state the reasons that the title filed with the Secretary of State does not substantially comply with the requirements of ORS 250.035 (Form of ballot titles for state and local measures).

(3) The petition shall name the Attorney General as the respondent and must be filed:

(a) Not later than the 10th business day after the Attorney General certifies a ballot title or a corrected ballot title to the Secretary of State, whichever is later; or

(b) If the title is provided by the Legislative Assembly under ORS 250.075 (Preparation of ballot titles by Legislative Assembly), not later than the 10th business day after the Legislative Assembly files the ballot title with the Secretary of State.

(4) An elector filing a petition under this section shall notify the Secretary of State in writing that the petition has been filed. The notice must be received in the office of the Secretary of State not later than 5 p.m. on the next business day following the day the petition is filed.

(5) The Supreme Court shall review the title for substantial compliance with the requirements of ORS 250.035 (Form of ballot titles for state and local measures).

(6) When reviewing a title certified by the Attorney General, the Supreme Court shall not consider arguments concerning the ballot title not presented in writing to the Secretary of State unless the court determines that the argument concerns language added to or removed from the draft title after expiration of the comment period provided in ORS 250.067 (Notice of draft ballot title).

(7) The review by the Supreme Court shall be conducted expeditiously to ensure the orderly and timely circulation of the petition or conduct of the election at which the measure is to be submitted to the electors.

(8) If the Supreme Court determines that the latest ballot title certified by the Attorney General or prepared by the Legislative Assembly substantially complies with the requirements of ORS 250.035 (Form of ballot titles for state and local measures), the court shall certify the title to the Secretary of State. If the Supreme Court determines that the latest ballot title certified by the Attorney General or prepared by the Legislative Assembly does not substantially comply with the requirements of ORS 250.035 (Form of ballot titles for state and local measures), the court shall modify the ballot title and certify the ballot title to the Secretary of State or refer the ballot title to the Attorney General for modification.

(9) Not later than five business days after the Supreme Court refers a ballot title to the Attorney General under this section, the Attorney General shall file a modified ballot title with the Supreme Court and serve copies of the modified ballot title on all parties to the ballot title review proceeding. If no party to the ballot title review proceeding files an objection to the modified ballot title within five business days after the date the modified ballot title is filed, the Supreme Court shall certify the modified ballot title to the Secretary of State and enter an appellate judgment the next judicial day. If any of the parties to the ballot title review proceeding timely files a petition objecting to the modified ballot title, the Supreme Court shall review the modified ballot title to determine whether the modified ballot title substantially complies with the requirements of ORS 250.035 (Form of ballot titles for state and local measures).

(10) Upon the filing of a petition under subsection (9) of this section objecting to a modified ballot title:

(a) If the Supreme Court determines that the modified ballot title substantially complies with the requirements of ORS 250.035 (Form of ballot titles for state and local measures), the court shall certify the modified ballot title to the Secretary of State; or

(b) If the Supreme Court determines that the modified ballot title does not substantially comply with the requirements of ORS 250.035 (Form of ballot titles for state and local measures), the court shall modify the ballot title and certify the ballot title to the Secretary of State or refer the modified ballot title to the Attorney General for additional modification and further proceedings under subsection (9) of this section. [Formerly 254.077; 1983 c.514 §9; 1985 c.447 §6; 1987 c.519 §2; 1989 c.503 §6; 1993 c.493 §96; 1995 c.534 §2; 2001 c.802 §2; 2007 c.159 §2]

See also annota­tions under ORS 254.077 in permanent edi­tion.

Notes of Decisions

Although Supreme Court was not empowered to change proposed title merely because it was of opinion that it could write "better" title, it could correct proposed title which failed to satisfy require­ments of this sec­tion and [former] ORS 254.070. Allison v. Paulus, 280 Or 197, 570 P2d 368 (1977)

Duty of court is to determine whether ballot title is "concise and impartial state­ment of the purpose of the measure" and is neither "insufficient" nor "unfair" and is not to determine if peti­tioners proposed ballot title is "better" or whether court could devise a better ballot title. Priestley v. Paulus, 287 Or 141, 597 P2d 829 (1979)

The statutorily imposed 75 word limit requires exercise of judg­ment in choosing what subjects must go un­men­tioned where proposed measure covers too many subjects to permit men­tion of all. Priestley v. Paulus, 287 Or 141, 597 P2d 829 (1979)

Where same commodity is commonly referred to by differing names, use of differing names for commodity in cap­tion, summary and descrip­tion is not misleading. Miller v. Paulus, 292 Or 723, 642 P2d 665 (1982)

Ballot title for proposed initiative to amend Oregon Constitu­tion which used sec­tion numbers rather than words to describe principles at issue was "insufficient." Hall v. Paulus, 292 Or 787, 643 P2d 343 (1982)

It is not province of Attorney General to provide a title to make clear that which is not clear in measure itself. Pacific Power & Light v. Paulus, 292 Or 826, 643 P2d 871 (1982)

This sec­tion provides exclusive pro­ce­dure for challenge to sufficiency and fairness of ballot titles and, therefore, plaintiffs' complaint was properly dismissed where they sought order preventing Secretary of State from placing measure on ballot because of mis­take by Attorney General in preparing ballot title. Ecumenical Ministries v. Paulus, 298 Or 62, 688 P2d 1339 (1984)

In any challenge to ballot title brought under this sec­tion, peti­tioner must show that peti­tioner com­mented under pro­ce­dures set out in ORS 250.067 (Notice of draft ballot title) to effect that proposed ballot title did not substantially comply with statutory require­ments. Kafoury v. Roberts, 303 Or 306, 736 P2d 178 (1987); McMurdo v. Roberts, 309 Or 318, 786 P2d 1268 (1990); Blumenauer v. Keisling, 313 Or 10, 828 P2d 1032 (1992)

Where Attorney General chose two potential sec­ondary effects from universe of such effects and placed them in ballot title Explana­tion, ballot title was modified to exclude potential sec­ondary effects. Oregon Citizen's Alliance v. Roberts, 308 Or 599, 783 P2d 1001 (1989)

Where peti­tioners challenging ballot title had not pre­vi­ously submitted timely written com­ments on draft ballot title, peti­tions for review of ballot title dismissed. Ransom v. Roberts, 309 Or 461, 788 P2d 455 (1990)

None of peti­tioners were entitled to bring pro­ceed­ing challenging ballot title for initiative measure de­scribed as "Mobilehome Owners Bill of Rights" because two peti­tioners did not file com­ments and argu­ments with Secretary of State, Oregon Mobilehome Park Associa­tion was not "elector" as defined by ORS 250.005 (Definitions) and remaining peti­tioner did not file com­ments and argu­ments with Secretary of State in individual capacity. Brown v. Roberts, 309 Or 667, 791 P2d 488 (1990)

Elector who submitted com­ment in capacity as representative of interest group and not in his individual capacity does not satisfy precondi­tion of statute. Donnell v. Keisling, 313 Or 66, 828 P2d 456 (1992)

Where statutorily imposed word limita­tion on title prevents inclusion of all subjects in complex measure, certified ballot title substantially complies with require­ments of statute. Crumpton v. Keisling, 317 Or 322, 855 P2d 1107 (1993)

Require­ment that court certify ballot title applies only if court first reviews adequacy of title. McCoid v. Kulongoski, 321 Or 452, 900 P2d 1028 (1995)

Judicial review of challenged initiative ballot titles for compliance with statutory require­ments does not violate separa­tion of powers by infringing on legislative power reserved to people. Rooney v. Kulongoski (Elec­tions Division #13), 322 Or 15, 902 P2d 1143 (1995)

Wording change sought during judicial review could vary from change sought during com­ment period if based on same argu­ment as argu­ment made during com­ment period. Adams v. Kulongoski, 322 Or 122, 902 P2d 1191 (1995)

Failure to strictly comply with time limit for providing written notice to Secretary of State of peti­tion for ballot title review requires dismissal of peti­tion. Sizemore v. Myers, 327 Or 71, 957 P2d 577 (1998)

Receipt of notice by Oregon Depart­ment of Administrative Services mail service does not constitute receipt of notice by Secretary of State. Mabon v. Myers, 329 Or 1, 984 P2d 278 (1999)

Where per­son did not timely submit com­ments or challenge ballot title, per­son may not use status as intervenor in pro­ceed­ing challenging ballot title to introduce new com­ments or challenges. Nelson v. Myers, 330 Or 92, 996 P2d 975 (2000)

Where court improperly addresses issue not contained in argu­ments re­gard­ing ballot title, remedy is to refer ballot title to Attorney General for modifica­tion at discre­tion of Attorney General. Crew/Garcia v. Myers, 336 Or 635, 89 P3d 1181 (2004)

Where error occurs in certifica­tion process and Attorney General timely notifies court and interested parties of proposed correc­tion, court will consider objec­tions to proposed corrected wording. Carley/Towers v. Myers, 340 Or 222, 132 P3d 651 (2006)

Law Review Cita­tions

75 OLR 561 (1996); 34 WLR 143 (1998)

Chapter 250

Law Review Cita­tions

27 WLR 132 (1991); 75 OLR 561 (1996)


1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 250—Initiative and Referendum, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors250.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2015, Chapter 250, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano250.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.