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R-71 update: Almost 111,000 signatures approved

by Brian Zylstra | August 27th, 2009

The latest signature update for Referendum 71 indicates that well over 125,000 signatures have been reviewed, with almost 111,000 of them being accepted.

About 8,500 signatures have been counted since Wednesday’s update, bringing the cumulative total to 125,631 checked signatures. Of this total, 110,797 have been accepted and 14,834 have been rejected for one reason or another. The overall error rate is now 11.81 percent, barely down from the 11.85 percent reported Wednesday. In order to make the November statewide ballot, the referendum’s overall rejection rate must not go over 12.4 percent.

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The R-71 sponsors, Protect Marriage Washington, need 120,577 valid Washington voter signatures for the measure to be placed on the ballot. Elections Director Nick Handy has announced that the signature check is expected to be finished by September 1.

And now, the breakdown of the rejections: 11,798 people whose registration were not found, 1,256 whose petition signature did not match the one on file, 1,730 duplicates and 50 cases where checkers have asked the voter’s home county for an electronic signature that can be compared with the signature on the petition.

For those of you following the “third check,” Elections Division staff looked up 2,141 petition signers on the live voter registration database Tuesday and Wednesday and accepted 279 (13 percent) of them as registered voters. These signers were in Volumes 267 through 364. Altogether, after a review of Volumes 1-364, the Elections Division has “accepted” 991 previously “not founds” and rejected five instances in which the signer had signed the petition twice.  Check out this spreadsheet for more details.  The third check process was started as a way to review the names of petition signers whose names did not appear on the snapshot of the voter registration database that checkers had been using from the start of the checking process. The live version of this database is being used to check those names in question.

The R-71 sponsors are trying to overturn the recently adopted “everything but marriage” law (SB 5688) that expands state rights and responsibilities to state-registered domestic partners so that they equal those granted to married couples.

6 Responses to “R-71 update: Almost 111,000 signatures approved”

  1. For those following the “third check”, today is the day that the fail-rate would have gone over 12.4% had this “everyone who registered late can be counted” policy been instated.

  2. funny how they keep saying that historically the invalid rate always goes UP near the end of a signature count due to duplicate signatures, yet inexplicably in the gay rights issue…the invalid rate is going down?…..

    very telling indeed……

  3. Susan Blakefield says:

    Can you please tell us how many signatures initially rejected by the temp workers have been shifted to the “accepted” pile as the result of the general master check (i.e., the “second check”) that all rejected signatures receive?

    I have asked this question twice before, without so much as an acknowledgment. This blog started out as a demonstration of the Secretary’s responsiveness and transparency. I hope that that continues to be the case. Please answer my question.

    Thanks.

  4. to Brian, I also have an important question. Pending all goes well on Sept. 3rd and WhoSigned.org/KnowThyNeighbor.org is allowed the scanned copies of the petition sheets, will these sheets on scans be left as they were before signature checking?

    I guess what I am asking is will I be able to view and process the sheets and do my own
    verification without any signatures being removed because they had gone through your verification process?

  5. J Scooter says:

    Regarding the SoS’s continuing to check the ‘live database’ and add the names of persons who were not registered voters at the time they signed the petition, when will the SoS cite to us any cases that allow for that to occur?? I’ve asked this question a few times before. In contrast to the SoS position, here are some additional facts that show why the SoS MUST stop accepting signatures from the ‘live database’, and must go back and remove any such signatures that were accepted if the signers were not registered voters when they signed:

    1) As long ago as 1919, the Washington Supreme Court ruled, in the case of State ex rel Mullen v Howell, that the requirement that only ‘legal voters’ can sign a petition means that these persons must be ‘registered voters’. That case involved a situation where if a person had not voted in the prior election, the state law at that time said that the person’s registration was void and had to be stricken. Some persons who were registered voters, but whose names were (or were required to be) stricken signed the petitions. The state Supreme Court said that those persons could not have their signatures counted because they were not registered voters at the time they signed the petition, and it compared them to persons who had not registered to vote when they signed the petitions. Here is the quote from the court: “[R]egistration which has been canceled for failure to vote being made void by the statute, the certifying officer [at the SoS] has no more right to consider the names so stricken than he has to certify the names of all persons in cities and towns of 500 and over population who may meet the qualifications of section 1, article 6, of the state Constitution, but who have never registered.The rights and status as voters of those who are qualified and have registered and failed to vote, and those who are qualified but have never registered, are the same. The Legislature, having the right to provide the means of determining the validity of signatures … to initiative and referendum petitions ….has said that citizens of cities and towns where registration is required are not ‘legal voters’ if unregistered, and they are unregistered when they have not had their names upon the poll books, or having had them there, have suffered them to be canceled by failure to vote; in either case they cannot exercise the right to petition for the initiation or reference of laws.”

    The Washington Supreme Court opinion in the Howell case — now 90 years old — continues to be followed in this state and in other states around the country.

    For example, in 1936, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, in the case of Initiative Petition No. 142, cited the Washington Supreme Court opinion in the Howell case and said: “Our statute … authorizes only those to sign initiative petitions who are qualified electors and entitled to vote upon the measure they propose. The present tense is used. It is a felony under the law for a person who is not a legal voter to sign an initiative petition. The result is that no person may lawfully sign an initiative petition UNLESS AT THE TIME HE IS REGISTERED ACCORDING TO LAW.” [My 'capitals' added]

    In 1934, in the case of Ahrens v Kerby, the Arizona Supreme Court said the same thing, relying upon the Washington Supreme Court decision in the Howell case: “It is true that one who signs a petition may later register and vote on the measure involved, but this in no way affects the legality of his signature thereon…. An elector must have the qualifications entitling him to register and vote, such as age, residence, etc., when he signs a petition and since the legislature has prescribed registration as the method by which these are made known, it is plain that his declaration when he registers that he then possesses them is no proof that he had them some days, weeks, or perhaps months back, when he signed the petition.”

    I have previously posted references to other court decisions, as late as 2008 (from the Supreme Court of Arkansas), that say the same thing: If the law says that only a “legal voter” can sign a petition, the signer must be a registered voter BEFORE HE/SHE SIGNS — the Arkansas Supreme Court even ruled that you cannot sign the petition and then register to vote the same day that you signed, because you are not a registered voter at the time you have signed.

  6. Thank you, J Scooter for keeping us informed.

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