You Cannot Petition the State with Per-Signature Gatherers


Thus orders the state of Oregon, as a federal appeals court upholds Oregon's Measure 26, which bans the use of per-signature paid petitioners to get initiatives and referendums on the ballot, originally passed in Oregon in 2002. Labor unions were proud of their role in pushing this through, allegedly to end the sleazy practices of per-signature mercenaries who (and I've witnessed this myself in days now long passed statutes of limitations) have the incentive to fake signatures to collect the Big Pennies involved. Hourly wages for petitioners will still be legal.

Here are some arguments for the measure. And here are some arguments against. The very first one, inserted by the Parents Education Association, really should have settled the whole thing: They point out that

according to Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2, the civil magistrate's job is to punish criminals, not to set wages or how these wages are paid…The parable of the workers in the vineyard asserts the right of the owner to set the sort of wages he will pay (Matthew 20:4).

More Godless arguments for freedom of paying petitioners at that link focus not on the inalienable right to truck and barter and sell your services at any price that someone wants to pay, but more practical ones including that there are already criminal penalties for submitting fraudulent signatures, and that nothing in the law would, they claim, prevent the placing of quotas on hourly employees, returning the bad incentives the measure would supposedly eliminate.

I certainly can't imagine the labor union-establishment coalition behind the measure wanted to do anything other than make it harder to get initiatives on the ballot, by making it harder to properly incentivize the signature gathering process for organizations that might be able to gather cash to pay, but lack ready access to "free" manpower. Like most "get the money out of politics" measures, it stymies free participation in the political process and generally benefits those already in positions of strong political power and influence. And remember, no matter by what method, foul or fair, a measure gets on the ballot, the citizens always have the power to say no.

Any Oregonians know if the people fighting to get Measure 26 on the ballot used per-signature paid petitioners?

[Link via Rational Review.]