As previously noted, there are two wrinkles in locking down the final count for each of the Referendum 71 volumes of petition signature. One is that dozens of signatures are temporarily put in the reject pile while the voter’s home county is asked to send an electronic signature that can be used to compare with the petition signatures. Many of those are eventually added to the “accepted” pile.
The other involves a check of signatures rejected because they weren’t found in the copy of the state voter database used for checking signatures. Because checkers have been working off of the same version of the database that was used to check Initiative 1033 earlier this summer, new voters who registered in July didn’t show up. As the Elections Division begins a “recent registration check,” about 12 percent of those originally not found are being picked up via the current database that master checkers can access.
Nick Handy, state elections director, called it “another dynamic in the mix” as the R-71 enters its final phase. The R-71 error rate has been slowly rising as more and more duplicate signatures are spotted, and that trend will be offset by potentially hundreds of previously rejected new voters being added to the accepted stack, he said. Of 2,401 rejects processed so far, 285 were found on the live database. Efforts by R-71 to secure a November ballot spot remains too close to call, he says.
This is from an Elections Division backgrounder:
Our checkers are finding in the live database about 12 percent of the names that were originally “not found” on the late June database copy. That is, of course, because the referendum organizers were encouraging people to sign the petition and register to vote at the same time, so many people actually registered to vote in July for the specific purpose of signing this petition. It is common practice for signature gatherers to register voters while circulating initiative and referendum petitions. In the past, signature gatherers have submitted voter registrations during the signature collection effort.
Also, there were probably a number of voter registration drives underway in late June and July, as King and other counties had primary elections earlier this month. Some of these primaries included high profile races, such as King County Executive and Seattle Mayor. In that context, it is not surprising that we are finding significant numbers of these voters in the “recent registration” check.
As an aside, our office support voter registration efforts, and encourages citizens to register to vote and participate in the process. Often times it is a particular ballot measure or race for a particular public office the stirs enough public interest that people who have never registered decide to register. We want and promote this kind of civic engagement.
As a result of the update we announced previously and included in our Frequently Asked Questions, we currently are reviewing the pool of 7,805 “not found” signers to date, and have indications that approximately 12 percent of those will change to registered voters if this pattern continues. We will be updating the data reported on our website to reflect these new changes.