Hey Chris… what the hell is up with that headline? Um, “so far, so good” for whom?
So far, so good on anti-gay rights measure signature check
The secretary of state’s office said Monday evening that it has completed its second day of checking signatures on Referendum 71 – the attempt to repeal Washington’s “everything but marriage” same-sex domestic partner law.
So far the error rate is low, 12.31 percent.
R-71 proponents turned in 137,689 signatures – 14 percent more than the minimum needed to be placed on the November ballot. Whether Referendum 71 will ultimately qualify is still unclear.
As of Monday state election workers had checked 11,502 signatures, and 10,087 have been OK’d with 1,415 rejected, mostly because the person does not show up on the voter rolls.
Okay, let me explain this for my friends in the media one last time. Juxtaposing a 12.31 percent invalidation rate versus that widely quoted 14 percent cushion tells the reader absolutely nothing. In fact, it misinforms by implying that signatures are being invalidated a full 1.69 percent below the maximum rate, when in fact the actual maximum invalidation rate beyond which the measure fails to qualify for the ballot, the signature cushion divided by the number of signatures submitted, is 12.43% (17,112/137,689).
In fact, math matters so much that it can give us valuable insight into the true prospects for R-71… prospects which, given the latest batch of numbers, don’t look so good so far for R-71′s sponsors.
Without adjusting for the exponential increase in duplicate signatures as the sample size increases, the invalidation rate on the first batch of 5,646 signatures was 11.34 percent, while the invalidation rate on the second batch of 5,856 signatures rose to 13.35 percent… not exactly what R-71 backers were hoping for. I’ve yet to see a breakout of duplicates in the second batch, so I can’t refine our 3 to 3.25 percent projection of the duplication rate for the entire universe of signatures, but when adjusting the combined 12.31 percent rate from the 11,502 signatures checked thus by the number of duplicates projected from the first sample, we’re now looking at a total invalidation rate in excess of 15 percent. Which would be pretty typical for a petition drive using a mix of volunteer and paid signature gatherers.
To put that in perspective, should these trends hold up, R-71 would fall short of the 120,577 minimum by over 3,500 valid signatures, or nearly 3 percent.
Failing by 3 percent is a lot different than passing by 1.69 percent, dontcha think? Like I said, math matters.
Speaking of which, it doesn’t take much more data to declare R-71′s failure a near statistical certainty, whatever the final margin, and Darryl will run some simulations as the next few batches come in. But honestly, this measure is toast.
The SOS has broken out the dupes from yesterday’s batch: 16… which is roughly along the lines of what would be expected, as the percentage of dupes increases with the total sample size. (There were 7 dupes in the first, slightly smaller batch.) Darryl’s simulations are more accurate, but my rough calculations now project a roughly 2.4% duplication rate. Combined, this comes to about an adjusted 14.5% invalidation rate across the two batches, well above the maximum 12.43% rate needed to qualify.