Tim Eyman has finally sent an email to his supporters, letting them know that the Secretary of State's office is saying he only turned in about 266,066 signatures:
The deadline for turning in voter signatures for Initiative 917 was Friday, July 7th. Thanks to the hard work and support of our thousands of supporters throughout the state, [you know, why not just say millions, Tim, since you love exaggerating] we succeeded at turning in 300,353 voter signatures for SaveOur30Tabs.com. Around 5 o'clock last Thursday, July 13th, we got a fax from the Secretary of State saying that their count showed 265,809. In response, we sent the following email:
From: Tim Eyman
Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 3:43 AM
To: Tina Clarke [Secretary of State]
Cc: James Rigby [Attorney at Law]
Subject: Letter to Sec of State concerning I-917
Friday, July 14, 2006
I was extremely surprised to hear that the voter signature count for Initiative 917 by the Secretary of State's office was 265,809. Since the required number of voter signatures is 224,880, that count will likely be enough to qualify for the ballot, but there is less of a cushion than we would like; and certainly a cushion that is considerably smaller than our records indicate.
Your letter states that the number of petition sheets counted by your office is 16,986 and the voter signature count is 265,809. As you know, our volunteer voter signature efforts are supplemented with paid signature gatherers. The use of both sources to gather voter signatures requires that we keep extensive records in order to ensure (1) that the signature-gathering firm is paid correctly and (2) to ensure our outstanding volunteers are recognized for their contributions.
Our paid signature-gathering firm maintains its own contemporaneous records that detail the number of completed voter signature sheets, number of signatures and the individual responsible for gathering the voter signatures. Records measuring the efficiency of individuals and the effort in total are kept as input for management decisions.
Our Spokane administrative group on a weekly basis reconciles the paid signature gatherers' tally before funds are released to pay the invoice. Our administrative office in Spokane maintains extensive contemporaneous weekly records as to the voter signature count for both voter signatures gathered by paid signature gatherers as well as voter signatures gathered by volunteers. Because of our procedures we are highly confident that our records are correct. The voter signature count by the Secretary of State's office is totally inconsistent with our records and totally inconsistent with various historical measurements.
We request that a recount be made to confirm the original count made by the Secretary of State's office so that we know for certain if there really is a discrepancy.
Assuming the re-count is the same as the original count, we will compare your results to our records to determine when the missing voter signature sheets were pilfered.
Once we identify what occurred, actions need to be designed to prevent a reoccurrence.
I apologize for the work required to conduct a recount. However, gathering voter signatures to qualify an initiative is extremely difficult and the right to petition through the initiative process is the most fundamental of citizen rights and guaranteed by the state Constitution. [We've heard this lame speech from Tim before].
While it's likely I-917 will qualify based on your current voter signature count, [sure, Tim - whatever you say] it is imperative that we find out what happened to the missing voter signatures and petition sheets in order to protect the integrity of the initiative process. Safeguarding the citizen initiative process should be everyone's highest priority. [So important we should call the Legislature into special session to do something about it, Tim?]
Thank you for your assistance. Please let me know how your thoughts.
CC: Jim Rigby, Attorney at Law
-- END --
The next day, they did a recount and the voter signature count changed, going from 265,809 to 266,006 after the recount.
Times chief political reporter David Postman says he talked to Sam Reed
yesterday and was told Eyman was talking nonsense:
Secretary of State Sam Reed told me yesterday that any suggestion that petitions were lost or stolen while in state custody is "silly to the point of being a ridiculous accusation." Reed said that after his staff recounted Eyman's petitions, an additional 38 pages were found.
But Reed said the system of processing petitions is carefully controlled. Initiative sponsors and a state trooper observe the initial count of petitions. The petitions are then boxed up and taken under watch of the trooper to the state archives building. There they are kept behind locked doors — Reed's entry card won't get him in there even though it is a division within his office — and photographed. The petitions are then taken to the secretary of state's off-campus office where the checking of signatures takes place.
Initiative 917 only has 266,066 signatures. The likelihood of the initiative making the ballot is open to debate, but there's a good chance it will and a good chance it won't. We'll have to wait for news from the Secretary of State's office. In the meantime, preparations to fight the initiative this fall will continue.