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R-71 update: Checkers near 80k mark

by David Ammons | August 19th, 2009

Referendum 71 sponsors now have nearly 70,000 signatures in their column, but still need another 50k to qualify for the Nov. 3 statewide ballot. The measure is sponsored by foes of the state’s newly adopted “everything but marriage” law that gives state-registered domestic partners the same state rights and responsibilities as married couples.

r71mastercheck

As of the Wednesday evening report, Elections Division crews have now checked 79,195 names submitted by the sponsors,  a campaign group called Protect Marriage Washington. The total was up about 6,200 over the previous day.

The error rate rose again in the latest count, to 11.67 percent cumulatively.  If they’re to qualify for the ballot, backers need to keep their error rate under 12.4 percent by the time all 137,689 of their signatures are checked.

The bottom line, so far, is that 69,949 signatures have been accepted.  It takes 120,577 valid Washington signatures to place a referendum on the ballot – 4 percent of last year’s total vote for governor.

The latest report said 9,246 signatures have been rejected – most of them (7,805) because they couldn’t be found on the state’s database of registered voters. Checkers also have turned down 700 because the signature doesn’t match the one on file and 703 for being duplicate or triplicate signers.  Another 38 await an electronic signature from their home county that can be compared with the one on the petition.

The check has been under way all month, with 360 of the 623  “volumes” checked so far. A volume is a batch of 15 petition sheets, each with between 1 and 20 signatures.  This is only the third full-signature check in 20 years. Typically, initiative and referendum sponsors submit enough signatures to allow a random sample of between 3 and 5 percent.

19 Responses to “R-71 update: Checkers near 80k mark”

  1. Is this within the terms of the TRO: http://referendum71.blogspot.com/2009/08/secretary-of-states-office-used-old.html

    “A few days ago, Valerie, who along with her husband Roy, leads our observers for signature validation, noticed a name being checked that she recognized, because the name was that of a family member of Larry Stickney. The name was invalidated because the person was “not a registered voter.”

    Valerie told Larry and Larry said he knew that person was indeed registered because they had registered within the past month.”

    Who is the best person to discuss this with? The court where the TRO was filed or the Attorney General?

  2. WOW. This is gonna be close but it’s looking up for equal rights for everyone. I just did a very rough average. Seeing about .30% increase in the rejection rate daily, processing about 6,500 signatures a day leaves about 7 days left in the counting that would put the final rejected percentage around 13.4% and I figured about 0.25% vs. the 0.30% roughly we’ve been seeing. Plus we should continue to see an increase in duplicate and not founds as they work towards the end. Crossing the fingers!

  3. S. Wishcamper says:

    I voted for you Sam Reed and expect that you and your employees will uphold the integrity of your office and responsibilities to all the voters in performing this count accurately. Slowing it back down will help to ensure that.

  4. Randy Sampson says:

    Thanks for the work everyone. It’s a thankless job. No matter what happens someone is going to suggest you were dishonest. Try not to take it to heart as you are doing a fine job. Just focus on the task, and do your best to count every valid petition. This is an emotionally challenging issue so even the kindest people sometimes forget their manners. Fellow Washingtonians … give them a break and have some respect.

  5. Hi David – You had mentioned on an earlier post that you are still awaiting the report of the sample re-verification of approved signatures. You mentioned that it was being reviewed by lawyers before being released to the two campaigns and to the public. Why would they need to review the results? Common sense seems to dictate that they would need to review whether completing the sample re-verification in the first place was legitimate and viable, but what would the motive be for reviewing the results after the fact?

  6. Dennis Anderson says:

    I ask that your validation be honest and filled with integrity. As a Christian, I believe we all will be accountable, especially me! All that is asked is that your process be above reproach.

  7. Harold Drake says:

    This is too important an issue to the public to not take care and not to rush the count. The public majority is in favor of getting this on the ballat so therir voice may be heard.

  8. Gary Wells says:

    I’ve been observing daily and I want to say that, regardless of the outcome, I am confident with our SOS and staff.

    They are handling this complex and emotional issue with more integrity and openess than I think I’ve ever seen in my State before.

    David Ammons has been quick to respond to concerns from both sides and has earned my compliments and respect.

    Of course, when all is said and done there will be conspiracy theorists from which ever side doesn’t get the outcome desired, but I for one am proud of the high road that’s been taken.

    So, Thanks.

  9. M Engeland says:

    Sam Reed needs to immediately find out why the rejection rate has increased. If the count is not done in the usual way then he needs to put it back on track. This is a highly charged issue especially for those on the left and it is understandable there could be a big conflict of interest here.

  10. Beth Knudsen says:

    Please slow the process down as you check signatures on R-71, so that there will be more accuracy in the validation process. This is the right thing to do for all the citizens of Washington.

  11. For those who have actually been watching the count on a daily basis, the very idea that the count is being rushed is ridiculous. The people at the Secretary of State’s office have been processing the signatures at a very steady rate throughout the entire process.

    It has been said from the very beginning that the error rate would grow as time went on due to the duplicate signature rate. The error rate for no signature match and voter not found have remained nearly constant throughout the process, only the duplicate rate has increased (again as predicted). In addition, every rejected signature is double checked by a master checker which is a more than fair standard (especially considering accepted signatures need only be verified once).

    The signature counters have been a model of transparency throughout the count and have had people from both sides overseeing the process.

  12. And the majority of people were against civil rights, voting rights, and ending slavery.

  13. Hi,

    I’ve noticed that the occasional volume has over 300 signatures. Most notably, Vol 165 has 320 signatures and Vol 31 has 315 signatures. The petition formatting rules mandate no more than 20 spaces per petition sheet for signatures (http://www.secstate.wa.gov/_assets/elections/Initiative%20and%20Referenda%20Manual.pdf). Multiplying this times 15 petitions per volume, the maximum number of signatures we should see is 300 per volume. Apparently, some petition sheets have more than 20 signatures on them. What is the fate of signatures in excess of 20 on a sheet?

    Thanks!

  14. AJ– State statute says observers may raise specific concerns to the checkers’ supervisor, citing volume and signature line at question. The supervisor typically will investigate the concern and may or may not authorize a change in how the signature was adjudicated. The observer may not write down specific names and is not supposed to communicate specific names to the outside world. This is particularly true since we are under federal court order not to release any of the R-71 petition information.

    Brian–i believe we’ll have the report today. review by counsel is standard, given that we may well be in a ligitation environment on a variety of issues raised by both sides. my understanding is that that review didn’t result in a single change to the original report, which has now gone out to both campaigns.

  15. Sincere thanks to those who are commenting on our process, some with compliments and some with complaints or concerns about the pace and the integrity. Again, we have followed the best pace we could devise, methodically and carefully moving through each volume of petitions, and re-checking before rejecting any names. And as Stephen and other commenters correctly note, we have been blogging practically from the beginning that the error rate historically rises as the count progresses, primarily because the duplicate (and triplicate) signatures always increase as the total field rises and the probability of a match rises. This and many other issues were explicated in a FAQ posted days ago by Elections Director Nick Handy. Our level of care and diligence has maintained throughout this grueling, closely scrutinized process. We have not “speeded up” nor are we taking our cues from one side or the other.

  16. As has already been stated, observers may raise specific concerns to a checkers’ supervisor, citing the volume, page and signature line in question. The actual RCW (RCW 29A.27.230) states that a person may not make a record of anyone’s name, address, or other personal information. This is also part of the instructions that every observer is briefed on. The ability to raise a concern or question and direct it to the appropriate person is part of the open observation process. Also, it is impossible for anyone (on either side) to view signatures and addresses, etc. and remain totally unaware of what he/she is reading. If you watch the process long enough it is likely a person (again, on either side) will see the name of someone they know–maybe even themselves.

    Hope this helps!

  17. So what would happen if you slowed down the pace so that it took until past the first Tuesday in November? Maybe come out with the results Wednesday, November 4th.

    Anyways here is a big thank you to all the hard working Washingtonian’s: counters, volunteers, observers, SoS, and most of all David. No matter what side we are on, as a true blue American flying a US flag in front of my home everyday, taxpayer, employer, veteran, I appreciate the process and want/need my rights extended.

  18. Mike Roberts says:

    If someone registered to vote as late as the day before they signed the referendum will their registration show up in the recount ? Are some of the signatures being rejected because people registered late ?

  19. Paul Johns says:

    @Harold Drake: while I agree with your call for a careful and fair count, you are clearly NOT correct that “the public majority” wants to see this on the ballot.

    It was a struggle to gather enough signatures to even get near 4% of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election. That means 96% of “the voters” didn’t sign.

    Since when does 4%, constitute “the public majority”?

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