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Harder to put initiative on the ballot in Oregon

Despite [Oregon's] new rules and barriers imposed on ballot-measure signature gatherers, Friday's petition turn-in deadline still saw several campaigns deliver petitions by the boxful.

But it wasn't cheap or easy, according to the apparently successful campaigns.

And the initiative activists who came up short said the new requirements are putting ballot access out of reach for all but the most financially well-off and well-organized interests. ..

Groups that tried to rely on tradition found the job tougher than ever because:

Voters in 2002 passed a measure banning per-signature payment of circulators. That means payments must be hourly, which initiative activists say is costlier.

Rules that determine whether signatures have been properly gathered, and how many will count, have become more stringent. A new anti-fraud rule requiring petition circulators to sign and date each page of voter petitioners is being legally challenged by petitioners who say it has led to the unreasonable disqualification of thousands of signatures.

An earlier Oregon Supreme Court ruling lets property owners such as shopping centers bar access to petition circulators. Even post offices and other public property owners have made access difficult, petitioners say. -- New rules put ballot access out of reach for some groups (Register-Guard)