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Late Registrations Accepted by Washington Secretary of State

Timothy Kincaid

August 25th, 2009

The Elections Division of the Washington Secretary of State has clarified that it will count as “accepted” the signatures of persons not registered to vote at the time they signed so long as their registration has been processed by the time that their name is triple-checked with the live database.

In other words, the deadline to sign Referendum 71 was July 25th. But because most names have not yet been triple checked, if you were not registered at that time (or you just made up a bunch of names) you could probably still register today and get your signature added back into the accepted pile.

There is no deadline for registering to vote for purposes of qualifying an initiative or referendum; as a practical matter, the deadline is the date that the signature on the petition is checked. Checkers are instructed that a signature on a petition is valid if they find a person with the same name in the voter registration file, and the signature on the petition matches the signature in the voter registration file. The registration date has never been a limiting factor.

I recognize that the purpose of the petition process is to reflect the will of a sizable segment of the electorate. I also understand that elections officials want to increase voter registration and see the petition process as a tool for increasing participation in democracy. I further get that they don’t want to deny a legitimate citizen the right to be heard due to a technicality about when those who took their registration filed the forms.

But this policy appears to be both susceptible to abuse and possibly inconsistent with state law.

… when the person or organization demanding any referendum of an act or part of an act of the legislature has obtained a number of signatures of legal voters equal to or exceeding four percent of the votes cast for the office of governor at the last regular gubernatorial election prior to the submission of the signatures for verification, the petition containing the signatures may be submitted to the secretary of state for filing.

I see no language allowing provisional voters or future voters or unregistered-but-intending-to-register-some-day voters.



August 25th, 2009 | LINK

Is a court challenge possible?

I don’t believe in any sort of conspiracy theory, but this is getting a bit out of hand. Why even bother checking for registration if they’re going to play it like that?

russ hemphill
August 25th, 2009 | LINK

so, can a recount be set forth. if it is close, can there be request for a recount? It would be interesting if a recount was demanded, you know if Stickney and Randall wanted a recount for additional verification. . .there would be a stink.

Leonard Drake
August 25th, 2009 | LINK

Has such a previous lack of registration name by the required filing date been allowed in previous voter measures before, or just THIS one? If this is a new notion, it seems highly suspect and problematic.

August 25th, 2009 | LINK

Anything to get the referendum on the ballot…

God forbid gays and lesbians get to enjoy strictly the rights of marriage.

August 25th, 2009 | LINK

Election officials are RIGGING the process to get this referendum on the ballot so haterosexuals can rip away gay people’s rights. How can you not say the process is rigged when even before they counted any signatures the SoS didn’t even defend state LAW requiring signatures be made public?

According to the law they cite to defend the practice of accepting unregisted people is you have to be a “legal voter ON the petition.” Clearly these unregistered people who are being accepted were NOT legal voters on the petition. More than 700 rejected signatures have been moved to accepted because of this illegal process. There is expected to be more tomorrow. Those are real numbers. Numbers that will probably mean this will go on the ballot.

All gay people ask is for fairness and haterosexuals can’t even give that. Everything has to favor the hatero and disadvantage everyone else.

Lindoro Almaviva
August 25th, 2009 | LINK

I think te best way to handle this is to challenge that specific policy on the courts. Now, we could lose or win, but at least it will be clear.

That being said, I think it’s not fair that people would be given that much leeway. I don’t think they would be for giving people the chance to vote and register latter, so long as they register before the results are announced.

OK, legal scholars. What do you think?

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