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."