After two years of struggle, the 2002 Police Accountability campaign has officially lost their bid for a recount. Originally filed in March 2000, the Police Accountability Initiative proposed a massive overhaul to the system that handles complaints of police misconduct. After missing the ballot in the 2000 election by a few thousand signatures, PAC advocates were much more confident this time around. But after the signatures were turned in, they came up a mere 257 short--a number that campaigners think is too close to be decisive.

Specifically, campaign advocates took issue with the counting method used by the county. Rather than tally all of the signatures, counting is done by a method of sampling: 6,000 of the 31,000 signatures are checked to rule out double signatures or signatures of non-registered voters. Though this method is used across the board to count all signatures on all initiatives, PAC 2002 advocates pointed out that 257 is too small a number to trust the sampling process. Frustrated, they took legal action, asking a judge to call for a recount. On Friday, that request was declined.

"It is a big disappointment," said Dave Mazza, campaign director. Moreover, Mazza points out, there is an obvious conflict of interest in letting the City oversee the County and the way they count votes. Reform within City government was actually the target of the legislation. "Had this been a measure that increased funding to city parks, I think we would have seen an entirely different interpretation of the numbers," said Mazza.

But Gary Blackmer, City Auditor, stands by the City's method of counting. "We followed state law exactly," said Blackmer. "This is the method we use to count all signatures, and it is the rules set forth by the Oregon Secretary of State," Blackmer explained. He also denied that the content of the measure had any influence over the City or County's actions. "I'm disappointed that he [Mazza] is criticizing a process that seems to work for everyone else."

But Mazza promises the campaign will be back. "It is a sparsely funded campaign with people who are relatively new," said Mazza. "Accomplishing what we did was quite remarkable; we've really made some headway."