R-71 signatures “clean,” but not clean enough

The Secretary of State’s office is posting totals to its blog from the signature verification of Referendum 71, and reports that the first day’s totals show the signatures to be relatively “clean” thus far.

During the first day of signature-verification for Referendum 71, over 5,000 voter signatures were scrutinized and the error rate was 11.34 percent.

The State Elections Division crew turned up 4,991 valid signatures out of the 5,646 they reviewed. A handful were duplicates or the signature didn’t match the voter registration card. Almost 600 petition signers were not found on the roll of registered voters.

The early error rate — the count could take the better part of a month at the current pace of checking by about 20 crew members – was running cleaner than the historic average of 18 percent. Sponsors, a campaign group called Protect Marriage Washington, submitted 137,689 signatures. That is roughly 14 percent more than the bare minimum, 120,577, required to secure a place on the November ballot.

Taken at face value that should be encouraging news to R-71 backers seeking to put our state’s recently expanded domestic partnership rights before a vote of the people. But, well… I’m not one to simply take such things at face value.

First of all, at 11.34%, the reported error rate is actually a lot closer to the threshold than it first appears, for while it is true that sponsors submitted roughly 14% more signatures than the bare minimum, the actual maximum allowable error rate is (137,689 – 120,577) / 137,689, or 12.43%.

On the basis of this first batch of signatures, R-71 would appear to be skating by on the low end of the 11% to 16% rejection rate typically seen on all volunteer signature drives, but the raw error rate on such a small sample is deceptive as it does not account for the exponential increase in duplicate signatures as the universe of data expands. That’s why when performing a statistical sampling of submitted petitions, the Secretary of State’s Office attempts to adjust for duplicates using a complex but straight forward algorithm as defined in WAC 434-379-010.

Breaking down the data, of the 655 signatures rejected in the first batch, only 7 were duplicates, yet even this small number plugged into the statistical sampling formula suggests that R-71 would not qualify for the ballot. If we assume that this first batch of signatures, roughly 4.1% of the total submitted, represents a random sampling (and this is not a safe assumption), then it appears that R-71 would likely fall one to two thousand signatures short.

Of course, that margin is still awfully close, and we’re dealing with a very small data set. But for the moment at least, I’m cautiously optimistic that R-71 will fail to qualify for the ballot.


  1. 2

    Haywood Jablome spews:

    If its in King County, they don’t subtract any, but they will add his two dead parents and his felon brother-in-law…..

  2. 4

    manoftruth spews:

    ya think the presidential vote was “clean” in urban areas with a high percentage of acorn workers?????

  3. 7

    man of thruth is the dumbest shit on the planet spews:

    4. manoftruth spews:

    ya think the presidential vote was “clean” in urban areas with a high percentage of acorn workers?????

    08/01/2009 at 2:53 pm

    Yeah you stupid fuck…all those 100’s of thousands of Acorn workers…swung the election.

    jesus you’re a dolt.

  4. 8

    mark spews:

    7 You know I had to wonder how a fucktard like Obama could say he would shut down the coal industry in states that are huge in the coal industry and win those states. Thanks, now I know!

  5. 9

    mark spews:

    It would be nice if when voting for Governor the county would scrutinize the status of the voters like they seem to be doing over this referendum.

  6. 11

    manoftruth spews:

    oh yeah. the pictures i’ve seen of acorn protestors look like intelligent, bright, honest hard working folks who would never commit voter fraud.

  7. 12


    We also need to remember that the Elections Division verification process tracks and reports only invalid and duplicate signatures and reports the sum of these as the overall invalid rate. We can be certain that Referendum 71 petitioners will continue to laud how “clean” their signatures are using this metric.

    What the state doesn’t attempt to do is understand what percentage of voters were misled into signing the petition. Once you have signed a petition in Washington State, there is no process to have that signature removed.

    Let’s consider this real-world example, an anti-gay marriage petition effort in Massachusetts resulted in ~170,000 signatures submitted of which ~143,000 were deemed valid. Paid signature gatherers were estimated as the source for 30-40% of the signatures submitted. Starting from the valid set, a sample of 20,000 was chosen and called to check that the voter knew which petition they had signed. Of the 20,000, they found ~2,000 who had been misled into signing the anti-gay petition.

    Even at much lower paid signature gathering rates it’s easy to see how fraudulently gathered signatures could be the difference between Referendum 71 making it onto the ballot, or not.

    WhoSigned.org and KnowThyNeighbor.org planned to make the Referendum 71 information accessible in advance of the Elections Division completing their signature check process. This would have given us a small window to find and document cases where voters were misled and by allowing the public to self-report fraudulent signature gathering.

    If the Temporary Restraining Order remains in effect until September 3rd, we’ll still eventually be able to document cases of fraud, but way too late to affect the outcome.

  8. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 Yes, within the error parameters that all elections are subject to. If you have any more stupid questions, write them here: [_.]

  9. 15

    Haywood Jablome spews:

    LMFAO @ 12……that was not your publicly stated intent when you formed whosigned.org.

    Your such a fucking liar. You intended to intimidate people from signing the petition, and it backfired in your face.

    I dont give a damn about Ref 71, but I do give a damn about fuckheads like you who try and mess with democracy and the rights of citizens to not be intimidated or harassed by phone calls because of how they vote, what they sign, or what they think.

    fuck you.

  10. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @8 He’s sitting in the White House, so it must have worked. Of course, there’s an alternative explanation: As usual, you know nothing about the subject you’re spouting off about.

  11. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @15 Why shouldn’t people who sign, support, and vote for bigotry have their names paraded in public to draw the community’s attention to who these contemptible bigots are? I, for one, would like to know, so I can avoid patronizing their businesses. As far as I’m concerned, bigots don’t deserve a single one of my hard-earned dollars.*

    * OK, so my dollars aren’t hard-earned, they’re gambling winnings in the capitalist casino called the “stock market.” So what? That makes my dollars all the more respectable because they’re capitalist dollars. Hard-earned money isn’t respected in this country, at least not by Republicans, who are ceaselessly trying to steal them while glorifying rich people who got that way by stealing from the working class! The fact I get dollars the good-old-fashioned Republican way — by not working for them — makes it all the more imperative that I spend these dollars in a socially responsible manner to help make up for the destructive way I got the money in the first place! As for working, why would anyone work in this country? Working is punished with high taxes, disrespect, low pay and bad working conditions, so would should I work? Why does anyone work? Working for money is a fool’s game.

  12. 20

    Haywood Jablome spews:

    @19…so I take it you were just fine with Joe McCarthy and his antics..

    what people think, or how they vote, or what they sign, what religion they are, etc is NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

    With your rabbit turd assinine logic, lets put a Star Of David on all jewish owned businesses and houses, a pink triangle on all queer owned businesses and houses, a crescent moon on all muslim owned businesses and houses, a giant D on all democrat owned businesses and houses, and giant R on all republican owned businesses and houses, etc……

    That way we can not spend any money at businesses owned by people we dont like….oh, and now that we know were they live, we can go “talk”(IE intimidate and harass) to them about how we dont like what they think or who they are.

    careful what you ask for dipshit rabbit boy…..

  13. 22

    Bill Casper spews:

    First, I appreciate that you identified yourselves.
    What you do is none of my business.  I do not believe same sex marriage should be a political matter anytime, anywhere.  I do believe bisexuals infect unsuspecting bi and straight women with HIV/AIDS.  That’s a death sentence no woman should have to fear.  To me that is a public health issue worse than TB and should never have become a political issue.
    Oh yea.  One more thing.  The word “gay” should not have been taken from the people who loved the original “happy” meaning; so much so that some named a daughter Gay.  I feel sorry for those girls.  I would prefer another name be chosen and ”gay” be restored to it’s original meaning. 
    I have a friend named Joy.  She agrees with me but was quick to say you can’t have the name “Joy.”  Get my point?
    Aside from your personal concerns… If you two are Pierce County residents you own shares in the Port of Tacoma and are responsible for paying General Obligation Bonds should the Port default.  You also stand to gain or lose from the local economy depending on the manner the Port is operated.  Right now the Port needs to correct past mistakes and move forward in ways that will retain, and even increase, the Port’s value to you and me.
    Bill Casper 

  14. 23

    Connie Bacon spews:

    To be honest, I have some reservations about gay lifestyle and its effect on children, but I firmly believe that freedom means freedom for everyone to make his or her own choices in life and to extend to others respect for their choices. As a Port Commissioner, part of my job is to make policy decisions for the Port. We extend benefit choices to all of our employees including employees with same sex partners. Hopefully this will help you make your selection. Connie Bacon

  15. 24

    Have a partner and a child spews:

    So nice to have your tolerance.
    To be honest, I also have some reservations about the straight lifestyle and its effect on children, but I firmly believe that freedom means freedom for everyone to make his or her own choices in life and to extend to others respect for their choices.
    Also so nice to have you post JUST before election time.

  16. 25

    Bitch With Facts spews:


    In light of the ruling to shield these people, please post the names of WA State residents who supported Prop 8 in CA.

    You can sort by State, then Amount, & higher contributors have
    business names you should post, too.

    Mike Murray Support $100,000.00 WA Redmond 10/27/08 Details
    Donald Pugh Support $50,000.00 WA Bellevue 10/27/08 Details
    Lin Whatcott Support $10,005.00 WA Maple Valley 10/18/08 Details
    Lin Whatcott Support $9,995.00 WA Maple Valley 9/16/08 Details
    Bryant Adams Support $5,000.00 WA Tumwater 10/28/08 Details
    Deborah Bell Support $2,500.00 WA Bingen 9/11/08 Details
    William Ziprick Support $2,000.00 WA Spokane 10/31/08 Details
    Larry Loveridge Support $1,000.00 WA Kennewick 8/28/08 Details
    Clyde Carpenter Support $1,000.00 WA Olympia 9/18/08 Details
    Marie Wade Support $1,000.00 WA Longview 9/19/08 Details
    Jacob Waldron Support $1,000.00 WA Maple Valley 10/19/08 Details
    Mark Yokers Support $1,000.00 WA Normandy Park 10/30/08 Details
    Sheree Tanner Support $750.00 WA Vancouver 9/9/08 Details
    David Lloyd Support $585.00 WA Redmond 9/7/08 Details
    Bennett Packard Support $500.00 WA Selah 7/1/08 Details
    Elaine Dunn Support $500.00 WA Spokane Valley 7/7/08 Details
    Michael Anderson Support $500.00 WA Port Orchard 8/4/08 Details
    Heather Shelton Support $500.00 WA Dupont 8/24/08 Details
    Geoff Davis Support $500.00 WA Redmond 8/27/08 Details
    Andrew Wheelwright Support $500.00 WA Monroe 8/29/08 Details