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Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2002


Referendum -- Oregon, Oregon -- Politics and government, Right of Initiative -- Oregon, Oregon System


Referred to as the “fourth branch” of the Oregon political system, the ballot initiative process has defined Oregon politics as much if not more than any of the traditional legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. After a century on the books, it continues to grow in stature and presence, evidenced from the increased bulk of both the Voters' Pamphlet and the Oregon Constitution itself. It tackles the entire spectrum of issues, affecting residents of Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill Counties, and often spilling over into Clark County, Washington, and beyond. Land use and property rights, structure of the tax base, and how local schools are funded, legislative accountability, are all issues that resonate throughout the six-county metroscape (including Clark County), which in turn serves as a fairly accurate microcosm for the ballot initiative process, and how Oregon sees it today.


Originally appeared in the Summer 2002 edition of Metroscape, published by the Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, Portland State University.

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