Biden alone in Oregon voters’ pamphlet after Trump declined to submit statement

Current US president Joseph R.Biden / Photo courtesy of New York Times

Oregon voters will see a big name missing when they open their state-issued voters’ pamphlet next month: Republican Donald Trump.

Laura Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, said Trump’s campaign declined to provide a statement for the pamphlet and didn’t share a reason. Candidates aren’t required to submit statements, but most choose to pay the fee – $3,500 for a presidential candidate – and draft a statement of 325 words or fewer that will be mailed to every voter in Oregon. 

Trump still will appear on ballots mailed to Republican voters.

Only three presidential candidates have declined to provide statements for the voters’ pamphlet since 2012. John Kasich, Rand Paul and Tulsi Gabbard were not front-runners when they declined to participate.

Self-help guru Marianne Williamson will appear on Democratic presidential primary ballots, though President Joe Biden clinched the Democratic nomination earlier this year. Williamson also did not submit a statement for the voters’ pamphlet, and her name is missing from a version of the voters’ guide produced for military and overseas voters that was posted online on Wednesday.

It has the same statements Oregon-based voters will see in their paper guides next month, but it doesn’t include candidate photos and may include inaccurate endorsement information. 

Candidates list their occupation, job background, educational background and prior government experience, then have space for endorsements and their own statements. It’s a class C felony to lie about educational or professional backgrounds in the voters’ pamphlet: Former U.S. Rep. Wes Cooley was convicted in 1997 for claiming he served in Korea during the Korean War when he never left the U.S. 

The Secretary of State’s Office requires organizations or individuals who endorse candidates to submit forms confirming those endorsements, but it doesn’t check those forms against the list of endorsers provided by candidates until after sending the military and overseas guide. Any erroneous endorsements won’t appear in the final version of the guide sent to most voters. 

Candidates are free to say whatever they want in the rest of their statements. Former state Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, introduced legislation in 2017 to make providing any untrue information for the pamphlet a crime punishable by five years in prison and a $125,000 fine, but it failed because of concerns about free speech.