The latest R-71 data release shows that the signature verification process is all but complete. A total of 137,881 signatures have been examined (a little more than the 137,689 they thought they had).
Total of 121,617 signatures have been accepted, giving a margin of 1,040 signatures over the 120,577 needed for the referendum to qualify for the ballot. I don’t believe all of the third-stage checks have been completed, so the number of valid signatures may increase some more.
Some 16,198 invalid signatures were found, for an cumulative rejection rate of 11.75%. The invalid signatures include 12,710 that are not found in the voting rolls, 2,093 duplicates, and 1,395 that did not match the signature on file. There are also 66 signatures still pending, so the number will change a bit.
The certification is scheduled for Wednesday.
What this means is that R-71 will (almost certainly) be be on the ballot, asking Washington citizens to confirm or deny the “everything by marriage” law that was passed last session.
In other words, if you want the law to take effect, you would vote YES on R-71. A NO vote is a vote to scrap the domestic partnership law.
There is one snag that may keep R-71 from the ballot. There is a pending lawsuit challenging two aspects of the signature verification process:
Arguments by supporters of the new law centered around the acceptance of over 35,000 signatures without a full declaration on the petitions signed by the signature-gatherer, and whether it is valid to accept signatures of people who signed up to become voters at the same time they signed petitions. The Elections Division has accept signers who are found on current lists of registered voters, and has not rejected voter signatures on petitions without the full declaration by the solicitor.
A ruling is expected on Wednesday morning.
An interesting thing about this case is the lawyers involved. The challengers are being represented by David Burman. You may remember him as one of the lawyers representing Gov. Gregoire in the 2004 gubernatorial election contest. Or maybe you recall him from the 2008 senatorial election contest in Minnesota.
The lawyer representing R-71 sponsors is Stephen Pidgeon. Last year Pidgeon represented a group that sued Sam Reed challenging Barack Obama’s eligibility to be President. The case (Broe v. Reed) was dismissed by the Washington State Supreme Court in early January.
I don’t think these particular successes and failures have much bearing on the success or failure of the R-71 court challenge, but they sure spice things up!