Main | Tuesday, September 01, 2009

WA: Referendum 71 Makes Ballot

It appears that Washington state's proposed Referendum 71, the petition drive to repeal domestic partners legislation, has squeaked by with enough valid signatures to make the November ballot.
With the Referendum 71 signature-check now nearly complete, state election officials say they’ve now confirmed that sponsors turned in more than the bare minimum needed for a spot on the November statewide ballot. Signature-checkers passed the 121,000 mark on Monday, the 23rd day of an exhaustive hand check of all 137,000-plus signatures submitted on July 25 by foes of a new “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law passed by the Legislature in April. It takes 120,577 valid Washington voter signatures to qualify a referendum to the state ballot. That is equal to 4 percent of the total vote for governor last fall. Voters will have a choice of accepting the new law or rejecting it.
Things are not yet finalized, however, as a pro-LGBT rights groups has asked a judge to rule on the legality of the signature gathering process.
A group called Washington Families Standing Together filed a lawsuit last week requesting an injunction that would block R-71. Washington Families Standing Together says the secretary of state has not complied with the law in processing R-71. Signature gatherers are supposed to sign declarations saying that signatures they've collected are valid to the best of their knowledge and that they personally circulated the petition, the lawsuit says. Attorney David Burman said in arguments Monday there were petitions with 2,058 signatures in which there was no name and no signature from the person collecting them. Burman also said the secretary of state was ignoring requirements that say only registered voters can sign petitions. The lawsuit says that on Aug. 17 Secretary of State Sam Reed told his staff to ignore the date in voter files as the voter registration date and accept signatures from people who were not cleared to vote when they signed. "If the secretary of state had followed what we believe was the correct legal advice this referendum would not have qualified," Burman told Spector.
The judge is expected to issue a decision by tomorrow.

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