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R-71 qualifying for November statewide vote

by David Ammons | August 31st, 2009

With the Referendum 71 signature-check now nearly complete, state election officials say they’ve now confirmed that sponsors turned in more than the bare minimum needed for a spot on the November statewide ballot.   Signature-checkers passed the 121,000 mark on Monday,  the 23rd day of an exhaustive hand check of all 137,000-plus signatures submitted on July 25 by foes of a new “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law passed by the Legislature in April.

It takes 120,577 valid Washington voter signatures to qualify a referendum to the state ballot. That is equal to 4 percent of the total vote for governor last fall.   Voters will have a choice of accepting the new law or rejecting it.

New ImageThe numbers still are unofficial and not final, as checkers do one final check of hundreds of previously rejected signatures of people who weren’t initially found in the voter registration records. That should extend the margin a bit, but the final margin could be in the range of 1,000.

The final margin is the closest in recent history and undoubtedly one of the closest in state history, said state Elections Director Nick Handy.  Typically, initiative and referendum sponsors turn in plenty of extra signatures so that a random sampling can be done, rather than a full every-signature check such as the one required for R-71.  The R-71 had very little margin for error, such as duplicates or unregistered voters, and they managed to keep their error rate below their maximum allowable rate of 12.4 percent. This was only the fourth out of 57 I&R signature checks that required a full check. The other three 100 percent checked failed to make the ballot.

The day’s recap will be posted late this afternoon.  Final certification is scheduled for Wednesday morning by Secretary of State Sam Reed.   Reed praised the Elections Division, including “30 hard-working signature-checkers who put in long hours with painstaking review of each and every  signature, amid some of the most intensive scrutiny we have ever seen in this state.  We have welcomed the scrutiny of citizens and provided unprecedented access to daily reports.  We appreciated the role of the official observers.  I think the citizens of Washington can be confident that great care was taken to get the process right.  I know there has been litigation from both sides, but we can be sure that the process worked just as well as we could make it, without bias for or against either side.”

14 Responses to “R-71 qualifying for November statewide vote”

  1. If the petitions which were stamped with the gatherer’s signature are allowed to stand, this whole thing is a joke. We either have laws and follow them or we don’t.

  2. I have ZERO confidence in the counting. You have proven time and time again that you purposefully RIGGED the process to get this referendum on the ballot. The ACTUAL rejection rate is much higher than 12.43%.

  3. J Scooter says:

    R71 will qualify by 1,000 votes, maybe less. This has happened ONLY because:

    (1) The SoS has accepted signatures of petition signers who were not registered to vote at the time they signed (contrary to the state constitution which says signers must be registered voters AT THE TIME THAT THEY SIGN — not just afterwards);

    (2) The SoS has allowed dozens of petitions (with thousands of names) to be submitted even though the names of the circulators were not filled in or the name that was filled-in was admittedly NOT the name of the actual circulator (contrary to state law that leaves a BLANK SPACE where the circulator is required to fill-in his/her name, i.e., “I, ……………, swear or affirm under penalty of law that I circulated this sheet”);

    (3) The SoS reviewed 3 or 4 times EVERY ‘initially-rejected’ signature (thousands of such signatures), giving them 3 or 4 “bites at the apple” to be accepted, but refusing to review even a 2nd time any ‘initially-accepted’ signature to see if it should truly have been accepted (even though the SoS concedes that when it reviewed a tiny number of 222 such ‘initially-accepted’ signatures, it found that 14% of them should not have been ‘initially-accepted’) — an arbitrary and capricious counting process that denies equal protection of the law;

    (4) The SoS never opposed the federal court’s granting of a 35-day temporary restraining order — which allowed the counting process to go forward without the public being able to see and independently confirm the validity of the names of the petition signers (even though the federal court is allowed by law to issue only a 10-day TRO, to be extended for only another 10 days [20 total days], unless the parties don’t object to a longer TRO — which the SoS did not object to).

    No other state in the US would accept signatures under these circumstances. It doesnt matter if you support or oppose domestic partnership — the fact is that the SoS has done a tremendous disservice to the integrity of the referendum process. How sad. Let’s hope that a judge has the courage to uphold the integrity of this process and reject the signatures that should have been rejected so that there can be a fair count according to the law.

  4. Like everything in this process the numbers don’t add up. Election officials were handed 137,689 signatures yet today they wrote down they looked at 137,881 total signatures.

  5. Cheryl Rogers says:

    Thank you to all who worked tirelessly to count and verify these signatures. Now we all have a chance to vote on this important issue.

  6. Now the voters get to decide.

  7. It’s deeply disturbing that the public still hasn’t been given access to the Referendum 71 petition records so they can validate the integrity of this referendum process before this referendum to strip rights from couples and families is certified and allowed on the ballot.

    In their opposition to a motion to intervene by Protect Marriage Washington (PMW) in today’s state court challenge, WAFST pointed out that:

    “Moreover, because PMW was unable to collect a comfortable margin of signatures over the constitutional minimum, the SOS has had to undertake a month-long detailed review of individual signatures and registrations. ***And because PMW succeeded in enjoining access to public records relating to the petition, SOS has refused to allow plaintiffs to see the backs of the petitions (where the signature-gatherer declarations are supposed to be printed and the gatherer’s name filled in) or to check the registration status of signers***, thus further delaying, if not precluding, preparation for the challenge that SOS suggests is available.”

    The Temporary Restraining Order coming out of the Federal court case preventing public disclosure of petition records has delayed, if not completely prevented the scrutiny that a referendum stripping rights and protections from fellow citizens rightfully deserves. It’s good to see such a clear recognition by WAFST of the key role that open access to public records plays in this process, and the harm that may be done when public records are hidden or made secret.

    With the narrow qualification margin of around a thousand signatures, it’s vital that we learn how many people were misled by paid signature gatherers into signing Referendum 71 – a type of fraud that the SoS process isn’t designed to catch or count.

    The people best qualified to know if they were misled are those who signed the petition who can check their own signatures and tell their stories. Let’s hope that they get that chance and the TRO is removed later this week.

  8. Dear blog commenters — love your thoughts, both positive and negative, and your thoughts about the campaign. But as one of your number correctly reminded us all earlier today, this blog can’t be the home for campaign discourse about R-71 itself. There are plenty of blogs and web-based media sites where this is possible and welcome — and we hope you avail yourselves of this opportunity. We will continue answer questions about our process and, where possible, take comments, but From Our Corner isn’t the vehicle for campaigning or for attacks on each other’s belief systems. If, as it surely appears, there will be a campaign and an election on R-71, my hope is that it’s done civilly and not hurtfully, even if you think the “other side” is dead wrong.

  9. Where can the public view the voter signatures?

  10. It’s good to know that the state can handle a process like this in a straightforward, credible and open way.

    People are also welcome to discuss this topic on OlyBlog.net, however, the same rules apply – no attacks on persons or personal beliefs.

    http://www.olyblog.net/ref-71-ballot

  11. Man, David Ammons, where do you buy your DVDs? You can get a 50-pack for $17 at the Big Box stores, not one for $25!

  12. Why don’t we just count, recount, recount the recount til we get the desired result as we have seen in some past elections. As is the case in this nutty age we live in the media releaes the name of a guy in Idaho who legally shoots an animal and recieves multiple varying threats. It is called intimidation and that IS the aim.

  13. I am very oppossed to same sex marriages

    Since people can no longer gather signatures at stores and ETC. – where do I go to sign a patishion against it – so it will be on the November ballot?

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