Gay Group Sues Washington Secretary of State
August 27th, 2009
Per the WA Secretary of State’s blogsite:
A lawsuit has been filed in King County Superior Court by Washington Families Standing Together requesting a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the Secretary of State from certifying Referendum 71 to the ballot.
5. The Secretary of State (“the Secretary”) is responsible for overseeing the determination of whether a referendum qualifies for the ballot. Striving toward the laudable goal of voter enfranchisement, the Secretary has made it a priority to accept signatures whenever possible. Unfortunately, in so doing, the Secretary did not comply with certain statutory requirements. In the course of the signature verification process for Referendum 71, it became apparent that the Secretary , relying on advice from the Attorney General, was ignoring the requirement directed by the Legislature that the anti-fraud declaration be signed by each signature-gatherer. Plaintiffs have received confirmation from the SOS that the Secretary has accepted thousands of petitions on which the signature-gatherer who circulated the petition did not sign the declaration.
6. Likewise the Plaintiffs received confirmation from the SOS that the Secretary was ignoring the requirement that only individuals who were duly registered voters could legally sign petitions. On August 17, the Secretary instructed his staff to disregard the date reflected in the voter files as the voter registration date and accept signatures from individuals who were not registered as o f the date they signed the petition or even by the date that the Referendum 71 petitions were filed. As a result, signatures by individuals not registered to vote at the time they signed a petition were counted toward the total number of signatures required to place Referendum71 on the ballot, in contravention of State law and in violation of the sworn oath every person signing a petition must make.
21. Protect Marriage Washington sorted and organized its petitions at the bottom of the Capitol stairs in Olympia before delivering the petitions to SOS staff. In the course of this final sort, PMW realized that many signature-gatherers had not filled out the required declaration on the back of the petition. SOS staff observed as PMW personel obtained a signature stamp from Larry Stickney, the campaign manager to PMW, and affixed Mr. Stickney’s stamp to many petitions whose signature-gatherer had not completed the declaration.
23. Persuant to a public disclosure request, Plaintiffs have learned that the Secretary accepted 33,966 signatures on 2,508 petitions (“Unverified Petitions”) where Mr. Stickney’s name had been stamped in the signature-gatherer declaration. It is a violation of State law to sign a petition circulated by another or to sign someone else’s name on the declaration.
37. As a result, Washington Families observers have witnessed SOS staff accepting signatures from voters who registered after the Referendum 71 petitions were files (and thus, who could not possibly have been registered at the time they signed the petition or even by the time the petitions were submitted to the Secretary).
42. On August 18, Washington Families asked the SOS to review more that 1,000 possible errors spotted by observers with regard to signatures and addresses that did not appear to match an petitions where a single individual appeared to have signed on behalf of several other people. The SOS had previously reviewed 222 similarly noted errors from observers and had discovered that 13% had been accepted in error that should have been rejected. The SOS nonetheless rejected the request to review the next sample noted by the teams of observers and submitted by the lead observers.