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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Right Wing Initiative Watch: Hutcherson's understanding of direct democracy is poor

The bigoted pastor of the Antioch Bible Church, Ken Hutcherson, has sent an email to his supporters about an appearance he'll be making this Friday (tomorrow, January 26th) on satellite radio to defend the filing of his initiative to overturn the recent expansion of Washington State's civil rights law.

It includes an update on the status of the initiative Hutcherson filed which demonstrates he's in unfamiliar territory.

Courtesy of Eli Sanders:

Dear Prayer Warrior,

This Friday January 26th, I will be interviewed at 12:30 PST, by Michelangelo Signorile on Sirius Satellite Radio. Michael is a radio talk show personality who is gay and he has called to debate me regarding the initiative that I submitted to Olympia last week, to repeal HB 2661 (the sexual orientation/civil rights bill that was passed last January). This will be on the gay channel of Sirius Satellite Radio. Here is a brief description of his show:
Monday to Friday 2 pm - 6 pm EST Signorile puts sizzle in the afternoons with his provocative brand of hot talk that sends homophobes and right wing zealots running for cover! Michelangelo draws newsmakers and community leaders, as well as icons from pop culture to politics, to talk about the issues of the day, and you’re invited to join them live on the air.
Pray for me as I speak about the “Initiative to Repeal HB 2661," that I will speak clearly and concisely regarding the details of this initiative, and that the truth behind HB 2661 be evident to all who hear me. This show is one of the largest in the gay community, it will touch many people - remember “ONE LIFE.”

The initiative is currently waiting to see how many signatures we are going to have to gather. Please be in prayer also for the money that we need to print and distribute the petitions for people to sign.

Your Pastor,
Only someone who is clueless how direct democracy works would write a sentence that reads "The initiative is currently waiting to see how many signatures we are going to have to gather". Hutcherson either does not understand the initiative process - or he does, but he can't explain it.

Either way, this message makes him look bad.

Those of who know something about the initiative process are aware of how many valid signatures are currently required to make the ballot - 224,800. The deadline for submitting petitions this year is July 6th, 2007.

Any registered voter can sponsor an initiative (of which there are two types - this is an initiative to the people, and if it qualifies it would go directly to the ballot instead of to the Legislature, which is the other path).

Sponsors must file a printed or typewritten copy of the complete text of the proposed initiative or referendum with the Secretary of State. Each proposed measure, when filed, must be accompanied by a filing fee of five dollars ($5.00) and a sworn affidavit that the sponsor is a legal voter of Washington.

After filing, the initiative gets sent to the Office of the Code Reviser, which within seven days must do the following:
  • Review the draft for technical errors and style;
  • Advise the sponsor of any potential conflicts between the proposal and existing statutes; and
  • Return the proposal with the Certificate of Review to the sponsor with any recommended changes. All changes made by the Code Reviser are advisory and are subject to approval by the sponsor.
The sponsor then has 15 working days after the submittal of the initiative to the Code Reviser to refile the final draft of the measure with the Secretary of State, accompanied by the Code Reviser's Certificate of Review.

After refiling, the Secretary of State will assign a serial number to the proposed initiative and forward it on to the office of the Attorney General for formulation of the ballot title and summary.

The Code Reviser is reviewing what Hutcherson filed at the moment because the initiative does not yet have an assigned number. It is thus waiting to be finalized and refiled. It is not "waiting to see how many signatures we are going to have to gather."

It's amusing that Hutcherson is asking his supporters to pray for money to print petitions. Evidently the campaign coffers are pretty low right now. We'd be surprised if they can't scrounge together enough money to print petitions.

The real difficulty is getting enough signatures. It's hard to distort what this is about - legalizing discrimination - and most Washingtonians aren't interested in condoning bigotry. A signature drive that lacks a ton of money needs superb organization and coordination to make the ballot. At this juncture Hutcherson doesn't appear to have either, and that's good news. We'll be watching closely to see if he gets any help from someone who knows what they're doing.

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