Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, July 14, 2006

BREAKING: I-917 short of signatures?

We've been hearing a few rumors over the last couple days that Initiative 917 is in trouble, signature wise, but today we finally got more substantive details.
Eyman had claimed to have turned in over 300,000 signatures, yet the Secretary of State’s office has only counted about 266,000. That means a rejection rate of about 15.5 percent or more would put I-917 under the required 224,880 signature threshold.

How likely is that? According to past performance, moderately damn. The SOS reports that statistical samples of last year’s initiatives showed rejection rates of 13, 16, 17, 19, and 26 percent. The office is preparing to do a statistical sample of I-917, and if it’s close they’ll have to verify every last signature. It may be weeks before we know the outcome.

Why would Eyman inflate his reported count by about 44,000 signatures when he knew that the SOS would eventually announce the real number? I can only think of two explanations: either he’s a pathological liar or mind-numbingly incompetent.


The SOS reports that about 3,000 of I-917’s petitions came back without signed declarations – that could account for as many as 60,000 signatures, more than enough to keep I-917 off the ballot if disqualified if a court overules McKenna’s opinion.
It's hard to know what's going on at this point - while it would be absolutely wonderful not to have to fight I-917 this November (that would bring us back to just 2 right wing initiatives - I-920 and I-933) at this point we're still expecting that I-917 will qualify.

UPDATE: The AP has released a story.
The state elections division on Friday announced that crews have begun checking petition signatures for four initiatives, beginning with Eyman's. Officials said Eyman turned in 266,006 signatures — far less than the 300,353 he told reporters he had submitted but more than the 224,880 required.

The measure can still make the ballot unless a large number of the signatures are duplicates or otherwise invalid. Typically, the spoilage rate is between 15 percent and 20 percent. Eyman could withstand having 15 percent thrown out, but not 20 percent.

"I wouldn't try to guess" whether he'll make the ballot, said elections official Tina Clarke. Last year, error rates ranged from 13 percent to 26 percent, she said.

Eyman submitted enough signatures to warrant random sampling, rather than name-by-name scrutiny. Using computer-generated numbers, crews are identifying 4 percent of Eyman's signatures, 10,640, to subject to a full signature check in late August.


Eyman, reached at his Mukilteo home, had no explanation for why the number was smaller than he announced and declined to speculate about his measure's making the ballot.

He later released an e-mail he had sent the elections division expressing shock at the big reduction. He asked the agency to doublecheck, and the final number released Friday was slightly higher than a previous count.

Eyman said some petition sheets may be missing. The state's count is "totally inconsistent with our records," he wrote.

"At this point, we will wait to see what the results are from their random samplng, and full count if necessary," he later told the AP in an e-mail.

"Nothing has changed about our certainty of our turn-in total. We're going to keep after them to get to the bottom of this," he said.

Pam Floyd of the elections division said, "We are confident of the numbers we reported. We don't know anything about any missing signatures."
What Eyman says doesn't matter. He is a proven, admitted liar who continually attempts to deceive the public and the press. If the Secretary of State's office says they only have 266,000 signatures, then that's what they have. If it turns out Eyman failed to submit enough valid signatures, then that's his fault and his problem.

It may be weeks before we know what happens to I-917. In the meantime, efforts to prepare to fight it this November will continue.

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