Washblog

Washington Constitution requires petition signers to be registered voters

An editorial in today's The News Tribune (Tacoma) has, with all due respect, completely missed the mark.  

Washington Families Standing Together is challenging the certification of Referendum 71 for the ballot based, in part, on the Secretary of State's decision to ignore voter registration date as a potential reason to reject a signature on the Referendum 71 petition.

The editorial misunderstands the position of WAFST regarding simultaneous petition signing and voter registration.  I've been reading WAFST's court filings, and WAFST isn't opposing people signing and registering on the same day.  Rather, the concern is this: Signature gatherers who collect voter registration cards are required by law to turn them in to the state within 5 days.  With a petition deadline of July 25th, this means the latest registration date that should have been acceptable was July 30th.  Yet the Secretary of State was accepting any signature from a voter registered as late as the last day of checking, September 2nd, a full month in excess of constitutional limits.  

The state Constitution requires that petition signers be registered voters.  The Secretary of State, in accepting any signatures of people with a voter registration date after July 30th, is acting unconstitutionally.  According to court filings, he instructed his employees to follow this unconstitutional path and erroneously accept signatures of people would couldn't possibly have registered to vote on or before the day they signed the petition.

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