Clark County prosecutors reverse course and forward ‘Restore Election Confidence’ initiative to auditor

The recent filing of a Writ of Mandamus by "Restore Election Confidence" initiative sponsor Rob Anderson, has compelled the Clark County Prosecutor's Office to reconsider its rejection of the proposed measure.
Rob Anderson, Reform Clark County founder

The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office forwarded the initiative to the auditor’s office, and the proposed initiative has a number and a ballot title

In a swift turn of events, the recent filing of a Writ of Mandamus by Reform Clark County Founder Rob Anderson, sponsor of the “Restore Election Confidence” initiative, has compelled the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office to reconsider its rejection of the proposed measure. The Writ, filed with a Skamania County judge Monday, attempted to expose what Anderson felt was a failure to comply with the Clark County Home Rule Charter, prompting the prosecutor’s office to reach out to Anderson to seek a resolution.

The day after the filing of the Writ, Anderson said Leslie Lopez, chief civil deputy at the prosecutor’s office, initiated a conversation conveying their intention to reverse the decision and move forward with the evaluation and processing of the initiative. During this conversation, it was proposed that if the prosecutor’s office created a ballot title and forwarded it to the auditor, Anderson would consider withdrawing the filed Writ.

In response to this development, Anderson stated, “They got caught, and I’m glad they have decided to follow the Charter, and people will see that this is a legal initiative that follows all the requirements.”

Later Tuesday evening, the prosecutor’s office sent a follow-up letter confirming the reversal of their decision and committing to forwarding the “Restore Election Confidence” initiative to the auditor on Thursday (Jan. 11). Anderson, however, expressed lingering concerns regarding the deviation from the Charter’s guidelines in the review process and potential impacts on free speech and the right to petition.

In a written reply to the prosecutor’s office, Anderson thanked them for the decision to reverse the initial rejection but raised critical concerns about the impact on free speech and public trust. He requested that the prosecutor’s office issue a public statement announcing the reversal and commit to strictly following Charter guidelines for proper legal review within 48 hours. Anderson offered to withdraw the Writ within 48 hours of the publication of the requested statement.

As the “Restore Election Confidence” initiative moves closer to proper evaluation and consideration, Anderson emphasizes the importance of adherence to Charter guidelines to uphold the democratic process and avoid unnecessary confusion and suppression of speech.

In a reply to Lopez, Anderson wrote, “I see these actions as potentially suppressing speech and impacting the People’s right to petition, which could result in the future suppression of signature collection. This concern is well-grounded, considering the unnecessary communications from their office are now being utilized by local media. This is likely to have a chilling effect on future activities, in addition to the present erosion of public trust in your office.

“Articles have been written, and some of the press have spread the improper legal opinions from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office regarding the ‘rejected initiative,’’ which Anderson believes might have been the goal all along. “It looks like they wanted to block people’s free speech through the initiative process and, at a minimum, provide fuel to suppress signature gathering, and some of the press was eager to go along.”

“No one knows the Charter more than the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and they chose to ignore it. Thankfully, Ms. Lopez, chief civil deputy of the prosecuting attorney’s office, recognized it and took quick action to turn this around and, in the end, really helped to make the initiative even better.”

Eventually, on Friday (Jan. 12), as a result of the filed Writ of Mandamus, the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office forwarded the initiative to the auditor’s office, and the proposed initiative has a number and a ballot title. 

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