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.
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.
The 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.