Voters in Oregon have passed a measure legalizing controlled, therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms, as well as a measure decriminalizing possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD, oxycodone and some other drugs.
They’ve also approved measures on cigarette taxes and political contributions. Also on the ballot are two high-profile drug measures and a U.S. Senate race while people in Portland choose a mayor in a race that has drawn national attention amid ongoing protests in the state’s largest city.
Here’s a look at major races in the Oregon:
— 109 (Mushrooms)
This ballot question would legalize controlled therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms. Backers of Measure 109 say the state, which was the first in the nation to decriminalize marijuana, should lead the way in legalizing regulated use of psilocybin, often referred to as magic mushrooms.
— 110 (Decriminalization)
Measure 110 would decriminalize possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD, oxycodone and some other drugs. The backers of Measure 110 said drug addiction is a health issue and should not cause people to be imprisoned and saddled with criminal records. The ballot question received a $500,000 donation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, who favor a health-based approach to drug addiction. About two dozen district attorneys in Oregon had urged a no vote on Measure 110.
— 108 (Cigarette tax)
This measure would increase Oregon’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack — from $1.33 to $3.33 — bump up the cap on cigar taxes to $1 per cigar and add a 65% tax on electronic cigarettes and vaping products, which are not currently taxed. The funds from the tax increase would be used for public health programs including smoking prevention and cessation programs. The projected new annual revenue is about $130 million.
— 107 (Political contributions)
Measure 107 would amend the Oregon Constitution and allow for the state, counties and cities to place limitations on political contributions and expenditures, require disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures and allow rules requiring campaigns to be transparent about who paid for political advertisements. Currently, there is no limit in contributions to candidates or ballot measures.
Democrat U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley has won the Oregon seat that he was first elected to in 2008. Merkley defeated Republican Jo Rae Perkins, who made national headlines this year for her support of the wide ranging and baseless QAnon internet conspiracy theory and “science denialism” during the pandemic. The incumbent’s win keeps Democrats holding both of the state’s Senate seats, the other Democrat being Sen. Ron Wyden.
Longtime Democratic U.S. House Rep. Peter DeFazio has been reelected in Oregon, defeating a challenge from Republican Alek Skarlatos. DeFazio was first elected to Oregon’s 4th District seat in 1986 and is the powerful chairman of the House Transportation Committee. In 2015 Skarlatos was one of three Americans on a Paris-bound train when a gunman entered their compartment. He and others tackled the gunman. Skarlatos played himself in the movie Clint Eastwood made about the incident. Oregon’s three other Democratic U.S. House incumbents also won. In Oregon’s open 2nd U.S. House District, Republican Cliff Bentz, a former state senator, won the seat vacated by the retiring Rep. Greg Walden, also a Republican.
Democrat Joe Biden won Oregon’s seven electoral votes in the race for president. Oregon hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan carried the state in 1984.
Mayor Ted Wheeler faces a challenge from the left from Sarah Iannarone. Months of protests against racial injustice and police violence have made Portland national news and President Donald Trump routinely derides Wheeler as a weak liberal unable to stop unrest in his “anarchist” city. Iannarone supports $50 million in law enforcement cuts and slams her opponent for what she describes as an aggressive police force.
VOTE COUNTING ISSUE
In Clackamas County, a Portland suburb, a machine that opens ballots broke, preventing elections officials from opening ballots. Elections officials said they were still on track to release results from 165,000 ballots at 8 p.m. The machine would be fixed overnight and ballot opening would resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Gavin Gibson, 18, was voting for the first time. Gibson said he filled out his ballot with his parents the night before but filled in the wrong bubble on one question. He was able to cancel his ballot and pick up a replacement at a will call station by the elections office. Gibson, who voted for Biden, said it felt exhilarating to vote for the first time in such an important election. “I’m excited. It feels nice to have a say in it. I didn’t really care until I was 16. I would hear my parents talk about it, but I was never a part of it and it’s nice to be a part of it now,” he said.