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R-71 Thursday update: 50k and counting

by David Ammons | August 13th, 2009

Crews checking Referendum 71 signatures report they’ve now checked over 50,000 signatures. 

The daily update reflects the completion of checks on 220 bound volumes that contain 15 petitions sheets apiece.  The previous day’s report showed a big increase in volumes that were completed by master checkers, but Thursday’s number was much smaller. That ebb-and-flow will continue according to the pace of the master-checking process. The new totals here show that 45,099 were accepted and 5,394 rejected, for a rejection or error rate of 10.68 percent, up a bit from the previous day. The rejections included 4,692 whose voter registration could not be located in the state database, 19 whose electronic signatures are pending from their home county, 420 where the signature on the petition didn’t match the one on file, and 263 duplicates.

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Election officials said Thursday that the reported numbers are mostly final, but noted that there are two relatively small categories of signatures that could continue to change after these daily releases:

“First, there are registrations in which the signature image on the state voter registration database may be of poor quality, or was not transmitted properly from the county voter registration system to the state voter registration system.  In this very small number of situations, the state requests the county to provide a better image of the signature.  The state will continue to receive those improved signature images through the verification process.

“ Also, we take note that there are registrations submitted recently that may not appear in the database being used by most checkers.  When checkers and master checkers search for a signer’s name to ascertain whether the person is registered to vote, they actually search on a copy of the statewide voter registration database; they do not actually search on the statewide voter registration database itself.  For security purposes, and to maintain the accuracy of the voter registration rolls, most checkers are not provided password access to the live statewide voter registration database.  The copy that checkers are using is an extract that was pulled at the end of June in order to conduct the signature verification for Initiative 1033, which occurred at the beginning of July.  Consequently, any registration applications that were submitted after this data extract will not be available to the checkers researching whether a signer is registered to vote.  The state will use the live statewide voter registration database to confirm whether a signer registered more recently.”

That means, in short, that senior checkers will make sure that none of the signers that are rejected because of “registration not found” did not subsequently register. A crosscheck with the fresh database will make sure the count was, and will be, properly done. It isn’t expected to affect a large number of signatures, since the number of new registrations processed in July isn’t large, and those who signed R-71 would be a smaller subset of that.

7 Responses to “R-71 Thursday update: 50k and counting”

  1. When must one have registered to vote in order for the signature to be valid?
    1) The date they signed the petition?
    2) The date the petitions were submitted?
    3) The date the signature is checked for validity?

  2. Bill W– Good question. This answer is from the state Elections Division:

    “For purposes of processing an initiative or referendum, there is no clear deadline for registering to vote. When describing who may sign a petition, state law uses both the term “legal voter” and the term “registered voter.”

    “It has been the historical practice for all initiative and referendum campaigns that they register people to vote, or ask people to update their registrations, at the same time that they ask people to sign the petitions. So many people fill out a voter registration application at the same time that they sign a petition.

    “Some of those voter registration applications are turned in right away, and some are turned in when the petitions are submitted. Some applications are processed months or weeks before the petition deadline, and some are processed later. Consequently, the determining factor will be, Was the signer registered to vote when the signature is checked?”

  3. J Scooter says:

    Dave, I thought there was a deadline by which a certain number of valid signatures had to be submitted? If someone is not a registered voter on the date that the petitions are submitted, and if their registration is permitted to take place AFTER the date the signatures are submitted, then doesnt this effectively extend the deadline for submitting signatures? As I understand the answer you’ve provided from the Elections Division, if the deadline for petition submittal was August 1 (hypothetically), and there among the submitted signatures were 100 of persons who actually filed their registration to vote on August 3, then as long as those 100 people show up as registered by the date the checkers check these 100 signatures (say August 15, hypothetically), these 100 signatures will be counted???

    I hope I’ve misinterpreted what you’ve post from the Elections Division — otherwise, this makes a mockery out of the submittal deadline of August 1. It means: (A) I can get hundreds of unregistered people to sign the petitions by the submittal deadline, and then get them to register after August 1; and (B) I can register hundreds of others to sign even though I don’t know if they are registered and then, after I submit the petitions, I can check the group about whose registration I was uncertain and if they were not registered to vote when they signed I can get them registered — and as long as get the registrations of (A) and (B) completed before the checkers reach their names, they are valid! In other words, I just need to “win the race” with the checkers.

    If this is really true, so much for the deadline to submit signatures — it is a moving deadline, which seems inconsistent with state law. Does the law really allow this?

  4. Thanks for the prompt answer.
    I guess that gives the petition supporter an advantage in making sure that every signature on the ballot is registered to vote even after the fact as long as the registration gets processed before the super checker looks at their signature a third or fourth time. An even greater advantage is when a TRO is in place and does not allow a group opposed to the petition to see the signatures and be sure something fishy is not happening after they are turned in.

  5. I meant to say every signature on the petition is registered…

  6. thanks, Bill and J Scooter. 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.

  7. Paul Johns says:

    The law is pretty clear about when the registration date is and therefore when the signature is legal: basically, the registration date is when the country auditor or Secretary of State gets the registration form. If it’s mailed, it’s the mailing date.

    In my reading, it’s not clear whether registering and signing on the same day is legal or not, but you could make a strong case that it is provided that the registration date is the same as the signing date.

    But as I understand it, the signing date isn’t on the petition, so there’s currently no way of knowing that. Using the petition submission deadline seems like a reasonable compromise.

    The fact that a certain procedure has been followed for many years isn’t legal precedent. It looks like precedent will be established here by the courts.

    It would be good for the Legislature to decide what they want and to spell it out clearly. They should also define the phrase “legal voter” while they’re at it. (The phrase is used all over the place and not defined at all as far as I could find.)

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