Oregon Ballot Measure 56 is probably the most important of the ballot measures to be voted on in the November 2008 elections.  This constitutional amendment fixes a problem that was brought on by the passing of a previous constitutional amendment a number of years ago.

Oregon Ballot Measure 56 is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment which, if passed, will provide that property tax elections decided at May and November elections will be decided by a majority of voters who are voting in the relevant election.  It is simple.  If a majority of folks vote “yes” then the measure passes.  If more vote “no” then it does not pass.  What could be simpler or more fair?

Under our current system, if the public wishes to raise money through property taxes to build our communities or maintain our infrastructure, it is not enough to merely have over 50% of the voters vote “yes” on the measure.  Under an unfortunate provision of current law, even if all of the citizens voting at a particular election vote yes on a measure that would raise property taxes, the item will not pass unless at least half of all registered voters go to the polls.  This current law has the effect of giving more power to those who choose not to exercise their right to vote.

This is clearly wrong and needs to be fixed immediately.  Ballot Measure 56 corrects this problem.

In the State of Oregon, as it is in all of the United States, voting is not compulsory.  If you do not choose to vote, your vote will not count.  This is as it should be.  However, in certain elections, the vote of those who do not choose to participate in our election system counts more than that those who do get out and vote.  In effect, if you don’t vote, it counts as a “no” vote.  This is wrong and needs to be changed.

Further, there are always people who are registered to vote, but have moved out of the area or passed away.  Under our current system of voting, since people who have left the area or have died do not vote, they count as a “no” vote.  This is certainly no way to operate a civilized society.

It is not often that I recommend amending our state constitution.  However, this amendment will correct an injustice that already exists in our constitution.  This amendment will allow your vote to count just as you intend for it to count.  If you are a voter, and you want the right to have an election decided in a way that most of the voters intend, you must vote YES on Oregon Ballot Measure 56.