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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Starting in 2017, WA initiatives will require an additional 13,250 valid signatures to qualify

Begin­ning in 2017, the num­ber of sig­na­tures required to secure a spot on Wash­ing­ton’s statewide bal­lot will be increas­ing to near­ly 260,000, the Sec­re­tary of State’s office announced in an advi­so­ry today,

The increase is a con­se­quence of turnout in the Wash­ing­ton’s 2016 guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion. The Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion says that the sig­na­ture require­ment for ini­tia­tives shall cor­re­spond to 8% of the peo­ple who vot­ed in the last elec­tion for gov­er­nor. For ref­er­en­da, the sig­na­ture require­ment is 4%.

“To qual­i­fy for a bal­lot spot, ini­tia­tive spon­sors for the next four years will need at least 259,622 valid sig­na­tures of reg­is­tered Wash­ing­ton vot­ers,” explained Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor David Ammons. “That is 8 per­cent of the total 2016 vote for gov­er­nor, 3,245,282. The old num­ber was 246,372.”

“For ref­er­en­da, the new require­ment will be 129,811. That is 4 per­cent of the total vote for gov­er­nor and com­pares with the cur­rent 123,186.”

Note that these require­ments are for valid sig­na­tures. To qual­i­fy, a cam­paign must sub­mit addi­tion­al sig­na­tures beyond the min­i­mum num­ber to have a chance of mak­ing it in order to off­set like­ly invalid or dupli­cate sig­na­tures. A cush­ion of at least twen­ty per­cent is need­ed, and more is bet­ter. 20% of 259,622 is 51,924, so future ini­tia­tive cam­paigns will need to be able to gath­er around 312,000 sig­na­tures total in order to qual­i­fy for the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 ballots.

The sig­na­ture require­ments are per­cent­ages, so they can fall or rise depend­ing on how many peo­ple are on the vot­er rolls and how many turn out for a guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion. How­ev­er, they’ve been ris­ing steadi­ly in four year inter­vals since 2000 due to robust turnout in presidential/gubernatorial years.

Turnout this year was down from 2004, 2008, and 2012, but the absolute num­ber of vot­ers vot­ing went up, so the sig­na­ture require­ments will be higher.

This news won’t make Tim Eyman hap­py, as his busi­ness is qual­i­fy­ing ini­tia­tives, and the high­er sig­na­ture require­ment means an increase in his costs.

But it may not mat­ter. If Eyman does­n’t have his wealthy bene­fac­tors behind him pump­ing cash into his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry next year — or any year in the future — he won’t be able to mount a sig­na­ture dri­ve anyway.

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One Comment

  1. Actu­al­ly the num­ber need­ed to cov­er invalid sig­na­tures is high­er than 52,000. To cov­er an invalid rate of 20% you need to mul­ti­ply the final num­ber of sig­na­tures turned in by 80% Turn­ing in 325,000 sig­na­tures with an 80% valid rate gives you 260,000 valid sig­na­tures. That means you need to col­lect about 65,000 sig­na­tures over the min­i­mum 260,000 valid sig­na­tures need­ed to cov­er a 20% invalid rate.

    # by Steve Zemke :: December 19th, 2016 at 7:59 PM