R-71 qualifying for November statewide vote

Looks like the R-71 inititiative — which would undo the state’s new domestic partnership law — is apparently heading to the state’s November ballot.

Here’s the latest from the Secretary of State’s blog:

(Courtesy Washington Secretary of State)


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.

New ImageThe numbers still are unofficial and not final, as checkers do one final check of hundreds of previously rejected signatures of people who weren’t initially found in the voter registration records. That should extend the margin a bit, but the final margin could be in the range of 1,000.

The final margin is the closest in recent history and undoubtedly one of the closest in state history, said state Elections Director Nick Handy.  Typically, initiative and referendum sponsors turn in plenty of extra signatures so that a random sampling can be done, rather than a full every-signature check such as the one required for R-71.  The R-71 had very little margin for error, such as duplicates or unregistered voters, and they managed to keep their error rate below their maximum allowable rate of 12.4 percent. This was only the fourth out of 57 I&R signature checks that required a full check. The other three 100 percent checked failed to make the ballot.

The day’s recap will be posted late this afternoon.  Final certification is scheduled for Wednesday morning by Secretary of State Sam Reed.   Reed praised the Elections Division, including “30 hard-working signature-checkers who put in long hours with painstaking review of each and every  signature, amid some of the most intensive scrutiny we have ever seen in this state.  We have welcomed the scrutiny of citizens and provided unprecedented access to daily reports.  We appreciated the role of the official observers.  I think the citizens of Washington can be confident that great care was taken to get the process right.  I know there has been litigation from both sides, but we can be sure that the process worked just as well as we could make it, without bias for or against either side.”

One Response to R-71 qualifying for November statewide vote

  • Keegan:

    Election officials continue to say “this is the way we always done it” yet you didn’t use the new registration databases until the 16th day of counting (8/21/09) when the rejection rate was approaching 12.43% and you didn’t use “master checkers” until the 6th of counting (8/07/09) after the rejection rate passed 12.43%.

    Let’s go back and review.

    8/06/09 – Rejection rate 13.54%
    The next day “master checkers” came in for the first time to look at only the already rejected signatures.
    8/07/09 – Rejection rate 11.63%
    As a result of “master checkers” look at the already rejected signatures the rejection rate dropped from 13.54% to 11.63%. Then on Monday and Tuesday of the following week “junior checkers” and “master checkers” looked at the already rejected signature AGAIN. That’s FOUR looks at the rejected signatures with FOUR different numbers.
    8/11/09 – Rejection rate 10.42%
    After looking at the already rejected signatures for a third and fourth time the rejection rate dropped to 10.42%, the lowest level the rejection rate ever been. It is standard for the rejection rate to climb as the counting continues, obviously on 8/06/09 R-71 had no chance of making the ballot and was given three more shots by election officials to lower the rejection rate by only looking at the already rejected signatures three more times.
    8/12/09 – Rejection rate 10.65%
    8/13/09 – Rejection rate 10.68%
    8/14/09 – Rejection rate 10.99%
    8/17/09 – Rejection rate 11.03%
    8/18/09 – Rejection rate 11.32%
    8/19/09 – Rejection rate 11.67%
    8/20/09 – Rejection rate 11.97%
    From 8/12/09 to 8/20/09 the rejection rate climbed EVERY day. It became clear with a rejection rate heading over the needed amount and with 35.9% of signatures still to be looked at something had to be done. Magically the next day election officials “found” new registration databases. Election officials decide to look at all the already rejected signatures with the new databases over an extended period not the one through way they did on 8/07/009, 8/10/09, and 8/11/09. As a result over the next few days the percent of “registration not found” goes down from 10% on 8/20/09 to 9.38% on 8/28/09.
    8/21/09 – Rejection rate 11.68%

    Has anyone else noticed election officials decided to change procedures on Fridays (8/07/09 and 8/21/09) when people (like journalists) would leave work for the week and when it became clear this referendum wouldn’t make the ballot?