Votes on Measure 92, the November ballot measure in Oregon to label genetically engineered foods, are being recounted. Reports indicate that the measure was defeated by 812 votes—or approximately five-hundredths of 1 percent (0.054 percent). Oregon law requires a recount if there is less than a 0.2 percent margin of difference.
The recount began Tuesday and is expected to be completed by Dec. 12. The Yes on Measure 92 campaign says it will have trained observers in every county election office across the state to monitor the hand recount.
“The outcome of this race has yet to be determined,” said Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesperson for the Yes on Measure 92 campaign. “The Yes on Measure 92 campaign continues to be optimistic that, when all of the votes are counted by hand, we will emerge victorious. We are going to be closely monitoring the recount as we work to ensure that every valid ballot is counted.”
Opponents of Measure 92, led by the No on Measure 92 campaign, say the initiative would create a complex and misleading Oregon-only food labeling system that no other state requires.
“Its poorly written labeling requirements and arbitrary exemptions would hurt thousands of family farmers and small businesses, provide inaccurate and unreliable information for Oregon consumers about the foods we buy, and increase food prices for Oregon families, especially hurting those who can least afford it,” No on Measure 92 says on its website.
Still, proponents are optimistic that the measure will pass in the state.
For example, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which donated $2 million to the Yes on Measure 92 campaign, says it anticipates the Oregon recount will add significant votes to the Yes on 92 side, following trends in other hand recounts in which the progressive side picks up votes (Franken in Minnesota in 2008 and Gore in New Mexico and Florida in 2000).
“This may be because voters unfamiliar with the process excessively mark up a ballot or otherwise compromise readability via machine, but nonetheless the voter’s intent is clear to the naked eye,” said David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s. “Oregon law robustly recognizes voter intent in hand recounts and does not disenfranchise voters lightly. The recount in New Mexico in 2000 moved 0.06 percent in favor of Gore, and there are many new votes in favor of Yes on 92 in Oregon that have been discovered by hand count.”