Drive-through lends new meaning to ‘petition drive’
Backed-up drivers signal interest to overturn driver-privilege law
Aug. 23, 2013 11:21 PM |
Carol McAlice Currie
A group of volunteers, whose goal is to overturn a new Oregon law granting driver-privilege cards to residents without documentation, hustled Friday to avoid creating gridlock for drivers wanting to sign their petition to let voters decide the law’s fate.
Cars were lined two deep on both sides of cones arranged by Oregonians for Immigration Reform in a parking lot on Market Street and Savage Road NE from noon to 8 p.m., said Cynthia Kendoll, president of the group. “There was very little lull,” she added of the drive-through effort to collect signatures in the shadow of a Dairy Queen restaurant and the former Kessel’s Collectibles store.
“We’ve had well over 100 signatures already,” Kendoll said, noting that the group’s goal was 500 signatures for the day. With a steady stream of cars backing up most of the time the group was out in the sun’s glare, she said she was confident the group would meet its goal with some to spare. Oregonians for Immigration Reform has until Oct. 4 to submit 58,142 valid signatures to the Secretary of State’s office to qualify its Referendum No. 301 for the 2014 ballot.
OFIR volunteers such as Diane Johnson scurried from a table to bring a clipboard with the petition to waiting drivers. The volunteers had to witness the signature and verify that the driver was registered to vote in the state, and that the address given was legible. Some signers during a half hour of her shift included a cab driver in his taxi and dozens of other mostly lone motorists, including many older men. Kendoll said Friday’s effort employed no paid signature gatherers, and was staffed entirely by volunteers.
The group is trying to overturn Oregon Senate Bill 833, which Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law in May in front of thousands of supporters at the Capitol. The bill authorized driver’s cards for those lacking documents to obtain a regular driver’s license. Kitzhaber said at the time that SB-833 ensured that thousands of Oregonians could drive to and from work, school, church and errands.
OFIR contends, however, that the law gives driver privilege cards to people who are in the country illegally. It wants voters to decide the issue, not lawmakers.
Kendoll said the group also rented billboard space on Silverton Road NE, west of Interstate 5, to encourage drivers attending the state fair to sign the petition. OFIR will staff a booth outside of the southeast corner of the Columbia Exhibit Hall at the fair, which opened Friday. She said the group had been successful at county fairs, and hopes the state fair will give the group the extra signatures it needs to meet the October deadline.