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Washington Judge OK’s Referendum 71 Certification

Timothy Kincaid

September 2nd, 2009

In Washington, Judge Julie Spector has decided not to block Referendum 71 from being being certified. But her decision may be procedural rather than based on content. (Seattle PI)

Spector said challenges to a referendum must be filed in Thurston County Superior Court after certification – and supporters of the “everything but marriage” law still had that option for trying to get R-71 off the ballot. The group that brought the original lawsuit – Washington Families Standing Together – said it would go to court in Thurston County to try to block R-71.

As to whether the signatures were invalid, the judge found that question ambiguous.

In her ruling Spector said Reed has the power under state law to reject petitions with falsely signed declarations, petitions with blank declarations and signatures from people who weren’t yet registered to vote.

“It is conceded that the number of signatures represented by these inadequate petitions is significant. Without them, the secretary of state could not certify Referendum 71 for the ballot,” Spector wrote.

However she also said that state law does not require the secretary of state to not accept petitions that don’t meet statutory requirements. “In summary, under Washington case law it is unclear whether there are any limits to the secretary of state’s discretion as long as he has chosen to accept petitions rather than reject them.”

In other words, it was up to the Secretary of State whether he wanted to allow Referendum 71 to go to ballot. We will see if Superior Court agrees.

But judge also noted that there was language in the petition that may invalidate the entire process.

The judge also said there were highlights on top of the petitions that contain “apparent falsehoods,” such as the statement that if same-sex marriage becomes law public schools would be forced to teach that homosexuality is “normal…even over the objections of parents.”

Spector said the required signature-gatherers declaration swears that people who signed the petition did so “knowingly.”

“It is unclear whether a signature-gatherer can swear than an individual signer has signed the petition ‘knowingly’ when the signature-gatherer has allegedly misrepresented the contents of the petition,” Spector wrote.



Lindoro Almaviva
September 2nd, 2009 | LINK

well, seems like the judge closed the door on their faces but left the keys out for the house next door, and even left a note with instructions on how to get in.

Richard W. Fitch
September 2nd, 2009 | LINK

If the WA SoS had already decided to approve the referendum, why did anyone even bother to have people sign petitions?

September 2nd, 2009 | LINK

Whatever happens in court or at the ballot box this year, I sincerely hope that WA gays will take an active role in defeating Sam Reed, who has shown himself to be lawless. There was absolutely no legitimate defense for the way he conducted.

I agree with Lindoro’s post above. However, our side will really need to make clear that the SoS does not have unfettered discretion to do as he pleases. All administrative agencies have inherent limits on the exercise of discretion, and there should be well-developed caselaw in WA to address this, even if it may not have involved the SoS specfically. I thought that was a great failing in the judge’s ruling. This is not as hard a point as she is making it out to be.

September 2nd, 2009 | LINK

“state law does not require the secretary of state to not accept petitions that don’t meet statutory requirements.”

This doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. How are they statutory _requirements_ if in fact they aren’t even required?!?!??

September 2nd, 2009 | LINK

“But by 2008, 66 percent of registered voters said they supported same-sex marriage (36.7 percent) or full domestic partnerships (29.3 percent). Just 32.6 percent were in support of lesser rights.”

Let’s try not to piss away a lead this time by letting the other team cheat with lies and not calling them on it.

September 2nd, 2009 | LINK

I don’t believe those polls. I really don’t.

My prediction is, if this goes to the ballot, the pro-gay side will prevail, but by 51-53%. The 66-75% range shown in a lot of polls for domestic partnership will vanish like froth. The R71 folks will spin it as a victory, as a narrow approval for domestic partner rights indicates that any attempt at full marriage equality would fail at the ballot box.

September 3rd, 2009 | LINK

This is the first year people will be given mail-in ballots. People are more truthful behind closed doors. I don’t expect to win. Heterosexuals always want a playing field that benefits them. They don’t want gay people to be on equal footing or anything that resembles it.

APPROVE Referendum 71. Gay couples deserve the exact rights heterosexual couples have.

September 3rd, 2009 | LINK


I think this issue of the reliability of polls on DP rights would make for a good post.

The reason I am skeptical is that there is a consistent Bradley effect in all polling on DP or marriage. I recall that in 2006 when gays tried to put DP on the ballot in Colorado, polls showed it winning. But it lost 53-47.

I couldn’t recall the poll results, so I just googled it and saw that the Rocky Mountain News was showing it winning 58-42 in September 2006.,2808,DRMN_24736_5004654,00.html

There either was a 11% Bradley effect or an 11% switch in support w/in 6 weeks of the poll. I submit it is the former, not the latter.

I really would like to see a poll asking about R71 specifically. Then we can work off of that to calculate the Bradley effect.

Timothy Kincaid
September 3rd, 2009 | LINK

Thanks for the idea, Dan. But I’m not sure we have enough data to do anything other than speculate at this point. There most likely is a Bradley effect, but it’s difficult to measure. It could as equally be a change in position over a month and a half, a lack of sophistication in polling assumptions, or a dozen other things.

During the Prop 8 campaign the polls were all over the place, though most showed it failing. But later we heard that inside polling showed both camps it would pass – but that this info was not shared.

September 19th, 2009 | LINK

Let’s remember, WA is not CA. WA (and ME) learned HUGE lessons from Equality-CA’s Prop 8 mess (terrible outreach, terrible ads that did not smack down the lies from the National Org. for Marriage).

Sure, Western WA is more liberal and Eastern WA is more conservative…but keep in mind, these polls are conducted via LAND LINES. Who has those? Older voters. Who doesn’t use land lines? Younger voters. Whose being left out of these polls? Right. Younger voters.

In WA, voters under age 35 OVERWHELMINGLY support not just expanded DP benefits, but full same-sex marriage.

Doesn’t mean the fight has been won. Of course not. But Ref 71 proponents follow Maine’s early lead in strong, effective ads to counter the distortion and outright lies of the anti crowd, the results will be extremely favorable for the Ref 71 folks.

I predict Ref 71 will pass by over 60%.

September 19th, 2009 | LINK

Yeah but who turns out more in non-presidential elections? Older, conservative voters.

Let’s see if anyone is still excited to vote now that Obama isn’t on the ballot.

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