PORTLAND — The Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a rewrite of the ballot title for an initiative petition that seeks to enact term limits for state lawmakers.
Ballot titles are intended to provide a concise, neutral description of a measure. They’re regarded as crucial information for voters who haven’t done homework on an issue, and the language is frequently challenged in court.
The ballot title certified by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum this summer accurately says the measure would prohibit state legislators from serving more than eight years during any 12-year period.
But Oregon’s high court agreed with an opponent of the ballot title that it omits a piece of key information: The measure would apply retroactively, quickly changing the composition of the Legislature.
The opinion written by Justice Martha Walters said there are instances when a measure is complex and some details can’t be included in the brief description. But, she added, the caption must accurately identify the major effects of a measure in terms that won’t confuse voters, and the term-limits title fails in that regard.