Anti-Gay WA State Referendum Would Make Ballot in Current Count
Last week I reported that anti-gay groups working to repeal Washington state's sweeping "everything but marriage" domestic partners law were losing ground in a petition signature count meant to put Referendum 71 on the ballot.
Now, there appears to be some confusion regarding the counting process, and momentum may be swinging the other way.
Sounds like a big mess. Slog reports: "Last night, the secretary of state’s office office had reported that the cumulative error rate was over 13.5 percent. 'The maximum error rate that they can withstand is 12.43 percent, so they are currently exceeding that,' spokesman David Ammons said. So it looked like R-71 was on a trajectory to fail to make the ballot. But now the secretary of state's office is reporting that 11.63 percent of the signatures are invalid. At this rate, it could make the November ballot. So what happened? Shane Hanlin, an assistant director of election for the secretary of state’s office, says that so-called 'master checkers' have been reviewing signatures over the past week. Even though daily counts have been announced (and widely reported by media), these checkers may not make a final decision on the validity of a signature until days later. They are authorized to consider the reason a signature was initially disqualified, check the state database, and move an 'invalid' signature into the 'valid' category. Hanlin says that the state's five master checkers have taken this action on least 409 signatures."
It's obviously going to be very close, and likely contested if the confusion continues: "Election officials need to pull this act together—soon. While their aims for transparency are respectable, the numbers don't even add up anymore. They cite 409 signatures that have been reversed, but none of the figures on their website show how they reached that figure. The final count is slated to be complete by the end of next week; however, if this slapdash reporting continues, the dispute will be tied up in court far longer."