WA Secretary of State Blogs
From Our Corner

R-71: The Friday Evening Post

by David Ammons | August 14th, 2009

The count goes on.  Washington election workers have now checked over 58,000 Referendum 71 signatures, with a rejection rate now up to about 11 percent.  Almost 8,000 new signatures were added Friday evening to the tally reported by master checkers a day earlier.

The new total is 58,493 checked from several hundred volumes. (A volume is a bound batch of 15 petition sheets, each with between 1 and 20 signatures.) That total includes 51,645 signatures accepted and 6,378 rejected – 5,502 because they weren’t found in the statewide voter registration database,  30 with signature images pending from the voter’s home county, 501 where the petition signature doesn’t match the one on file, and 345 duplicates.

The error rate is running 10.99 percent.

The full spread sheet showing the latest breakout — check volumes 221 and beyond — is available here .

r71threeb

R-71 sponsors, a group called Protect Marriage Washington, wants to overturn a newly adopted “everything but marriage” law that gives marriage-like rights under state laws to couples who are registered with the Secretary of State’s domestic partner registry.  The measure is on hold while the referendum question is pending.

Sponsors submitted 137,689 signatures on July 25, and need 120,577 Washington voter signatures to be validated by the state Elections Division in order to win a place on the statewide November 3 ballot.

2 Responses to “R-71: The Friday Evening Post”

  1. J Scooter says:

    Dave Ammons,

    Thanks for your response to my posting (and that of Bill W) on the August 13 blog regarding the acceptance of signatures from persons who were not registered to vote when they signed the petitions. You said:

    “Our policy says that if the new voter fills out the registration card, he/she has done all they can do, and that the subsequent process of the registration being received and processed at the county elections office should not count against the new voter. This has been the policy for some time, and was not dreamt up for R-71. This question, like all of the others associated with R-71 check, is subject to judicial review. I suspect no judge would rule against the new voters.”

    First of all, I’ve never said or even hinted that the process of qualifying signatures is being “dreamt up for R-71.” If others have said that, I disagree with their statements. I think all of you at the SoS office are doing your very best. However, what we are all finding out is that potential problems with long-standing procedures like this one (and others) really didn’t make a difference in the past when the signature counts weren’t close in prior referenda (or initiatives) — but they could make a big difference now.

    Second, as to the specific concern about counting signatures of persons who weren’t on your voter rolls (or whose registrations to vote weren’t even submitted BEFORE the petitions were submitted) — I don’t believe you’ve really answered the concern that this process effectively extends the deadline for submitting the correct number of signatures. The legislature set a specific deadline for petitions to be submitted; it didn’t seem to leave a loophole that the deadline could effectively be extended by days or weeks as the result of counting signatures of persons who weren’t registered voters when they signed, or when the petitions were submitted.

    Third, and related to this same point about the legislature having set these procedures: on Friday, the SoS lawyers made a filing with the federal court in which the SoS submitted affidavits describing the signature process, and the SoS quoted from state law. The quotes were to Wash. Rev. Code Section 29A.72.130 which says anyone who signs a petition is attesting that “I am a legal voter” (NOT, I “will become” a legal voter, or I “am filing a voting registration form”), and to Wash. Rev. Code Section 29A.72.130 which says that it is punishable by fine or imprisonment if someone signs “when he or she IS not a legal voter” (NOT, “he or she is not eligible to become” a legal voter). In fact, the petitions themselves that were submitted contain similar warnings to people not to sign if they are not legal voters. With the state law so clear, regardless of what long-standing procedures the SoS has followed, the fact remains that if Mary Jones or Tom Smith signs a petition on July 10 saying that “I AM a legal voter”, and if his/her new voting registration isn’t even sent into the SoS until July 15 — or, even worse, until after the petitions are filed — it simply is inconceivable that the person could be considered a ‘legal voter’ WHEN S/HE SIGNED THE PETITION, which is what the legislature has required. You’ve said that you suspect a judge would not find that there is a problem here, but can you cite one single court decision — from any state — where the court ruled that when a law says a person must be a legal voter at the time s/he signed a petition, the law allows that person’s signature to be counted even though s/he didn’t file his/her voter registration until days after signing the petition? I would find it interesting to read any such court decisions if you know of them — as they would appear to be contrary to the direct language of what Washington’s statutes seem to say.

    Again, thanks for all the hard work that is being done, and for your responses to our comments.

  2. J Scooter — tnx for yr thoughts on registration. i really can’t add anything to our previous statement about new registration, and our decision to enfranchise I&R signers who simultaneously register to vote. this is one of many policy decisions that is subject to judicial review or legislation.

Leave a Reply

 


About this Blog

The Washington Office of the Secretary of State’s blog provides from-the-source information about important state news and public services. This space acts as a bridge between the public and Secretary Kim Wyman and her staff, and we invite you to contribute often to the conversation here.

On the Web

Comments Disclaimer

The comments and opinions expressed by users of this blog are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Secretary of State’s Office or its employees. The agency screens all comments in accordance with the Secretary of State’s blog use policy, and only those that comply with that policy will be approved and posted. Outside comments will not be edited by the agency.

Your Corner of Washington

Older Posts

Blogroll

Blog Contributors

Recent Topics