It appears the Legislature will send a measure to the voters repealing Oregon's notorious double majority requirement in local government budget election. Not only a majority of voters must favor a levy, but a majority of the registered voters must cast ballots. Otherwise the election doesn't count.

This undemocratic measure effectively gives a "no" vote to people who don't cast ballots. Of course it's unfair, and voters should repeal it if they get the chance.

It has been worse in Oregon. Until the early 1970s, Oregon annexation law had a triple two-thirds majority requirement. Two-thirds of the voters in a city had to approve an annexation, two thirds of the voters in the county had to approve the annexation and two-thirds of the voters in the area affected had to approve being annexed. Needless to say, there were few annexations until the law was repealed in the early 1970s.

The chief defender of the law was the late Sen. Donald Husband, R-Eugene. In his private law practice, Husband represented special service districts - fire districts, water districts, park districts. They often opposed annexations because municipalities took over their duties. It was a bit of a conflict of interest for a state senator who chaired Senate State and Local Government Committee that heard all annexation Legislature. Husband's outrageous triple two-thirds majority was repealed when control of the Legislature changed in 1973.

Oregonians should give the double majority required of local government levies similar treatment.


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