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Sources Say: Dems? GOP? Blank space

Oregon’s two major political parties missed a golden opportunity to get their candidates and platforms before the voters.

The state Democratic and Republican parties both failed to file pages for the Political Party Statements section of the Oregon general election Voters’ Pamphlet.

State elections officials say the two parties have repeatedly failed to file statements for unknown reasons.

Five minor Oregon political parties managed to get their pages in the election guide. Statements were filed by the Constitution Party, the Independent Party of Oregon, the Libertarian Party, the Pacific Green Party of Oregon and the Progressive Party. They spell out the principles of each party and their stands on political issues.

The pages for the Constitution, Pacific Green and Progressive parties also list their candidates for office. And all of the pages except the one for the Progressive Party include Web addresses for more information.

Protests clog reservoir fight

Politics make strange bedfellows — including the politics of water.

A list of weekly protests compiled by local anti-war and anti-corporate activists includes a Sunday, Oct. 28, rally at the historic open reservoirs in Mt. Tabor. The goal is to pressure the City Council to fight U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules requiring that open reservoirs be covered or replaced with underground storage tanks. “These reservoirs have been serving pure water for over 115 years,” according to the calendar listing emailed on Monday. “The real facts prove these reservoirs are solid, safe, and that the water they serve is pure beyond compare.”

Maintaining the open reservoirs is also supported by the Portland Water Users Coalition. In a January column in The Oregonian, Water Commissioner Randy Leonard denounced the coalition as “a special interest group composed of some of Portland’s wealthiest individuals and corporations, including Harsch Investment Properties, American Property Management, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Hilton Portland & Executive Tower, Siltronic AG, Sapa, Darigold and Sunshine Dairy Foods.”

The attack has not made any difference to the grassroots Friends of the Reservoirs, however. Both organizations decry the water rate increases being approved by the City Council for projects to replace the open reservoirs.

NY Times’ facts are in the mail

State elections officials are puzzled about a recent report in The New York Times that implied there were serious problems with the Oregon’s vote-by-mail system.

The Oct. 6 news article included charges that fraud and coercion are “real and legitimate concerns” with mail-in ballots, and said that about 2 percent of all mail-in ballots were rejected for various reasons by elections officials.

The article did not include any reporting on the situation in the state, but was accompanied by a chart showing that Oregon has the highest percent of mail-in ballots in the country.

Andrea Cantu-Schomus, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, notes that the article was primarily about absentee voting, which is handled differently by each state. Oregon is the only state that conducts all elections by mail, which is why the percent is so high, she says.

According to Cantu-Schomus, no one from The New York Times contacted her office for comment. But she notes that only 0.64 percent of Oregon ballots have been rejected since May 2008, usually because the voter signatures on the envelope do not match the signatures on the ballot. When that happens, voters are contacted and given 10 days to confirm their signatures, Cantu-Schomus says.