That’s what you call a close election. In the end it came down to fewer than 800 votes — but today, the group that put the mandatory GMO-labeling initiative on the Oregon ballot conceded that it was over.
The Nov. 4 vote was so close that it triggered an automatic recount. The recount didn’t shift the numbers much: There were 25 more ballots voting yes, and zero more voting no.
Around 5,000 ballots were initially rejected because of problems with signatures. According to the Oregonian: “Voters were notified by letter and given until Nov. 18 to fix their ballot so it could be counted.”
In the end, 4,600 ballots were rejected because the signatures on the ballots were different from the voter signatures held by the state. Backers of the measure filed a lawsuit contending that some of the voters whose ballots were rejected didn’t have sufficient opportunity to fix their ballots. On Monday, a judge rejected that lawsuit.
As I’ve said before, the razor-thin defeat suggests that, if labeling proponents keep trying, sooner or later one of these initiatives will pass. On the other hand, there may not be many places where opinion is so evenly divided. While the rest of the country swung toward conservatives in the midterms, Oregon just got bluer, and legalized pot. That’s the kind of public sentiment it takes to get to this teetering, either-or election on GMO labeling.