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Constitutional copy-editing

Oregonians pass by a landslide a ballot measure to copyedit their state constitution; are there other documents we’d like to tinker with?

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It was no great surprise that Oregon went blue last month. But something else on the ballot got even more votes than Obama-Biden. Measure 78, designed to copy-edit the state constitution, passed 1,129,688 votes to 441,581.

What exactly did Oregonians vote to change? Presumably some civic-political machinery must turn before the changes become fact. But Measure 78 called for a change in the terminology for the legislative, executive, and judicial parts of state government. These three are henceforth to be known in Oregon, as elsewhere, as "branches," not "departments." And the Legislature will have two "chambers," rather than two "branches," bringing Oregon in line with other states.

And oh, yes, they changed references to the secretary of State to more gender-neutral ones. That may have to do with the fact that the current secretary, smiling out from her office's home page, is Kate Brown.

The official report on the financial impact of these changes said there would be no cost involved, which strains credulity a bit. Everything that government does, or doesn't, has a financial impact. Where will new language be carved into marble? Painted onto signs?

Still, the vote in Oregon invites the question: Are there other great documents that we'd like to tweak just a bit?


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