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R-71 update: More than 110,000 names checked

by Brian Zylstra | August 25th, 2009

Exactly one month after the Referendum 71 petitions were delivered to the Office of Secretary of State, the latest update shows that signature checkers have reviewed over 110,000 signatures.

More than 6,000 signatures have been counted since the Monday update, bringing the cumulative total to 110,288 checked signatures. Of this total, 97,261 have been accepted and 13,027 rejected for one reason or another. The overall error rate is now 11.81 percent, up slightly from the 11.72 percent reported Monday. The R-71 sponsors, Protect Marriage Washington, need 120,577 valid Washington voter signatures for the measure to be placed on the November ballot.

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Here is a breakdown of the rejections: 10,580 people whose registration were not found, 1,089 whose petition signature did not match the one on file, 1,314 duplicates and 44 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 wondering what’s happening with the “third check,” the third checkers are still reviewing the outcome of, and compiling the stats for, the volumes past No. 220. By tomorrow night, we hope to have the final numbers for another 100 volumes. Since the third check began, 220 volumes have been checked, and 561 names have been converted from the “not found” category to the “accepted” list.  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.

Thanks to everyone for all your feedback and questions; we appreciate your interest in this issue and what you have to say. Look for our daily “5 Questions” post, where we’ll respond to your questions and discuss your observations about the R-71 check.

6 Responses to “R-71 update: More than 110,000 names checked”

  1. Randy Sampson says:

    Not really interested in the number of volumes. When you report the number please provide the number you’ve checked and the remaining you have to check. And the obvious … the number converted to the accepted list. Volumes don’t tell us anything because they can vary in their count. Just speaking for those of us that are filling in spreadsheets and tracking this thing. Thanks everyone. Well done!

  2. Show us the other petition where unregistered people’s signatures were accepted in the past.

  3. Susan Blakefield says:

    Could you please report what the correction rate has been as the result of the primary master check? I am asking here not about the live database check of the no-match signatures, but rather the general master check that all rejected signatures receive.

    What percentage of those signatures initially rejected by the temporary workers are shifted to the “accepted” pile as the result of the master check? If you don’t have an exact percentage or number of shifts, then I would appreciate your best good-faith estimate.

    Thank you!

  4. Why didn’t the Secretary of State defend the law requiring signatures be made public in late July?

  5. J Scooter says:

    Per an earlier question raised by Susan re the double-checked “initially accepted signatures”, can Susan or someone at the SoS please explain what happened here because I don’t understand it. I’ve read the Elections Division report, and here’s what I understand:

    Apparently the Elections Division checked 222 “initially accepted signatures” and as to the results of double-checking those 222 “initially accepted signatures”, the Elections Division said:

    “Of the 222 accepted signatures reviewed, 14 were changed from Accept to No
    Match, 6.3%. Two were changed from Accept to Signature Pending. Fifteen were
    designated as reject because a registration record could not be found for the
    signer. These 15 will be investigated further; the status of these signatures
    may or may not change depending on further research.”

    SO THIS SEEMS LIKE THE NUMBER OF CHANGES ASSOCIATED WITH THE REVIEW OF 222 INITIALLY ACCEPTED SIGNATURES IS: 14 + 2 + 15 = 31 (Some of these might end up being accepted again, but it’s still 31 of 222 signatures, or 13.96% that were removed from the pile of “initially accepted” signatures.)

    Now, let’s turn to the results of double-checking of another 225 signatures — one that were initially rejected and also rejected on a master check. As to these 225 signatures, the Elections Division said:

    47 300 42 Changed 2 from Not Found to Accept +2
    48 300 63 Changed 6 from Not Found to Accept
    Changed 2 from Not Found to Pending +8
    70 299 49 Changed 1 from Not Found to Accept +1
    73 196 27 No changes +0
    87 300 17 Changed 1 from Not Found to Accept +1
    89 299 27 Changed 1 from Not Found to Accept +1
    225 Net Change +13

    SO TO SUM UP WHAT HAPPENED WHEN 222 INITIALLY ACCEPTED SIGNATURES WERE REVIEWED VS. WHAT HAPPENED WHEN 225 INITIALLY REJECTED/MASTER REJECTED SIGNATURES WERE REVIEWED, IT SEEMS LIKE THE Elections Division RESULTS ARE THAT 13 rejected signatures moved from reject to accept (with possibly a couple more to come), BUT 31 accepted signatures moved from accept to reject (with possibly some to those to be accepted). HERE’S WHERE IT GETS CONFUSING — AND MAYBE SUSAN OR THE SoS CAN EXPLAIN:

    The Elections Division says it won’t do any more double-checking of initially accepted signatures because — when it compared the two small checks above (ie, checking 222 initially accepted vs. 225 rejected), it came to the following conclusion — WHICH I CANNOT UNDERSTAND:

    ” However, the Elections Division believes that the results reflect an expected
    result in a review or recount environment. That is, changes will occur if
    additional research or review is done, particularly in a process like signature
    checking that is, in and of itself, an imprecise and sometimes subjective
    process. But these changes tend to be offsetting. At the end of the special
    reviews, 13 signatures were added to the accept pile and 14 signatures were
    added to the reject pile. This is a net change of 1 more rejected signature out
    of a pool of 450 signatures reviewed. This is the expected or typical result of
    a recount or review. ”

    Can the SoS, or Susan, or someone else, please explain how the Elections Division says that there is a net change of ONLY 1 signature, when the other quotes above from the Elections Divisoin report say that 31 initially accepted signatures were changed to reject or possibly reject VS. 13 of rejected signatures were changed to accept or possibly accept? That seems like a potential net change of 18 signatures (31 – 13 = 18), not 1 signature.

    There is also one other statement in the Elections Division report that is very troubling, because it actually conflicts with statements made several times in earlier blogs by Dave Ammons of the SoS and others at the SoS who said that checkers are carefully trained to match signatures, and either they match or they do not match (readers can check the exact language that was used by the SoS, but that is truly the substance of the statement). Without doubting that checkers receive training on matching signatures, compare those prior SoS statements on this blog with the following statement from the Elections Division report on why it will not continue double-checking initially accepted signatures: “changes will occur if
    additional research or review is done, particularly in a process like signature checking that is, in and of itself, an imprecise and sometimes subjective process.” WOW, talk about inconsistency, and a skewed counting process: ie, the Elections Division KNOWS that additional reviews “CHANGES WILL OCCUR”, but it is only willing to double/triple check rejected signatures and NOT initially accepted signatures!

    It seems clear that if this referendum qualifies by 1,000 – 2,000 signatures, the lawyers will have a heyday in court because of what is going on here:
    (1) SoS accepting signatures from unregistered voters, contrary to the specific wording the WA law AND
    (2) double and triple checking initially rejected signatures to allow them 3 bites at the apple to qualify, but refusing to double check ANY (except 222) initially accepted signatures — when the SoS check of 222 initially accepted signatures showed that 31 (almost 14%) of them should not have been initially accepted and the Elections Board has admitted that “CHANGES WILL OCCUR” if additional re-checks are done, AND
    (3) withholding the petition names from the public (per the TRO — which the SoS DID NOT OPPOSE THE COURT’S GRANTING — see Court TRO order which says the SoS did not oppose granting the TRO) so that the anti-R71 side was completely in the dark about doing its own checking and raising problems about specific signatures with the SoS during the checking process.

    Is this the way a democratic process is supposed to work? I want to be clear: I think the SoS people are incredibly hardworking, honest and doing the best count they can do. But the rules they are using are completely unfair and contrary to law. In prior referenda when the number of signatures wasn’t close, maybe none of that mattered. But now, these improper processes are going the make the difference between qualification and non-qualification — unless a judge steps in.

  6. Jay Jonson says:

    Could someone please answer the question I asked yesterday: Are there plans to prosecute those who signed petitions twice? Is a list of duplicate signatures being kept? Will they be turned over to appropriate law enforcement officers?

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