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R-71 backers bring in signature petitions

by David Ammons | July 25th, 2009

Sponsors of Referendum 71, hoping to force a public vote this fall on the state’s new “everything but marriage” domestic partnership bill, have brought in what they estimate are least 138,000 voter signatures.

r71 main3
The bare minimum to qualify for the Nov. 3 statewide ballot is 120,577, but traditionally an average of about 18 percent turn out to be invalid. The state Elections Division has recommended that referendum sponsors bring in a 25 percent pad, for a total of about 150,000 or more.

The Saturday turn-in at the Capitol means that the new law, Senate Bill 5688, won’t take effect on Sunday as planned, but will be on hold while the signature check is conducted. If certified to the ballot, the measure would remain on hold until the vote is held and certified. If voters rejected the law, it would simply never take effect.    

r71 main2The Legislature and Governor Gregoire previously created a state domestic partner registry within the Office of Secretary of State  for same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples with at least one partner 62 or older.  In the past two legislative sessions, lawmakers have added more and more of the rights and responsibilities that married couples have. The sponsors brought in stacks of petitions shortly after 3 p.m.

Next up: Crews counted 9,359 petition sheets Saturday, but not the actual number of signatures submitted.  On Monday and Tuesday, the petitions will be at state Archives being “imaged.” After returning to the state Elections Division, crews will determine h0w many names were submitted and then begin doing signature-verification. That could take a week or more. 

No other referendum campaigns turned in signatures. The only citizen initiative that will be on the ballot is I-1033, which deals with revenue limits for state, county and city government general funds and property tax relief.

8 Responses to “R-71 backers bring in signature petitions”

  1. Lisa Borkowski says:

    How long does it usually take to verify segnatures and release a final count?

  2. David Ammons, secretary of state's office says:

    several weeks, probably. it appears we cannot use random sampling and will need to do a full check.

  3. Tim LaPlante says:

    If someone felt they were lied to by a signature gatherer and misled into signing the petition, is there a way for that person to have the signature invalidated?

  4. I would like to file a referendum to abolish straight marriage. It is a blight on our society. Can you direct me to the state laws that would need to be repealed? How do I go about gathering signatures?

  5. Janet Sailer says:

    It is hoped that the Secretary of State will be especially diligent in ensuring that every single signature is accurate, since Referendum 71 involves taking away civil rights from a group of citizens.

  6. I’m glad to see that all of the signatures will be processed. I’m already seeing allegations being made that somehow voters are being cheated because they failed to get enough signatures to ensure that it would make the ballot.

    I know that we likely won’t know until all the signatures are verified, but if we’re lucky this we will be able to skip the waste of time and money that this particular referendum represents.

  7. Stephanie Zimsen says:

    I would also like to know the answer to Tim LaPlante’s question:
    “If someone felt they were lied to by a signature gatherer and misled into signing the petition, is there a way for that person to have the signature invalidated?”

  8. Karen Grube says:

    I expect there are enough valid signatures to stop this outrageous bill from going into effect. Taking away rights? Hmmm. I thought this bill GRANTED rights that were not already there. How can rights be taken away that were not already established? Saying that is more than a little misleading and inaccurate. I do hope this validation isn’t doesn’t wind up in rejecting a whole lot of valid signatures. If the count is close but just under the required number of signatures, one hopes someone will step in and sue on behalf of those whose signatures were inappropriately or wrongfully rejected and have them recounted. Slow and careful here is what’s important. Don’t accept any signatures that are clearly invalid, but do every possible due diligence in assuring that every real, valid signature is counted and not wrongfully rejected.

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