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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who’s Going to Challenge Referendum 71?

Posted by on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 4:27 PM

A handful of groups advocating for marriage-equality have just announced that they won’t file a challenge of the ballot title of Referendum 71. The tactic would have eaten up time for opponents to gather signatures for the petition, which would slim the chances that the referendum could even make it on the ballot.

“After we looked very carefully at what the attorney general’s office had drafted … we concluded that the ballot title accurately reflects what the domestic-partnership bill does,” says Lisa Stone, a spokeswomen for Washington Families Standing Together, the newly formed organization fighting to uphold the bill. The recommendation to avoid a challenge came from the ACLU of Washington and Legal Voice (Stone is also the director of Legal Voice). She says that challenging the language simply to defeat the measures could elicit a negative public reaction. “We like to be sure that we are acting as ethically as we can,” she says.

The deadline to challenge the ballot title in Thurston County Superior Court is today at 5p.m.

However, someone else could still challenge the ballot title.

In fact, rumors have surfaced that Protect Marriage Washington (PMW), the group of bigots sponsoring Referendum 71, will file the challenge itself. PMW spokesman Gary Randall did not immediately return calls to comment. And it’s unclear how PMW would seek to improve the wording of the petition, but the strategy could backfire.

Dave Ammons, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office, said last week that a judge could hear the case as soon as this Friday. “But June 5 or June 12 would be more likely," he says. PMW would then be left with as few as 43 days to print petitions and collect the 120,577 required to make the November ballot.

Stone says Washington Families Standing Together could then go to court to keep the wording. “We will look very carefully at what they are proposing and determine if we need to intervene,” she says.

 

Comments (4) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
A million brilliant pebbles scattered all over sure could gum up the works.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on May 26, 2009 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Baconcat 2
Well, from the get-go, the ballot wording seemed extremely favorable for the pro-equality side. Or, rather, it seemed far more honest than the anti-equality side would have proposed.

Now, the only reason Randall could possibly challenge this is because he knows it's fundamentally impossible to both roll out the petition and get all the signatures needed in the time allotted -- even Eyman couldn't. It would just buy him time...this would give him a lot of time to raise funds for himself and Stickney.

The question is how much time they'd be willing to go for. If he pushes this into a challenge, he wouldn't have to even print the petitions, he could just as easily ask for the money and forge ahead while this trundles through the court back and forth for 2 or 3 weeks and then yank the whole thing and say "we tried, but that danged liberal media."

The sad thing is that this is legal and works. It's completely fine for him to "fundraise" for the duration of this challenge and not even run a petition as long as the money floats in the ether of his own personal PAC and not "Protect Marriage WA PAC". The money saved by not printing petitions or paying signature gatherers could easily pay himself, Stickney, Swecker and supporters while socking away some for a more toothy challenge if a marriage bill rolls through the legislature next year.
Posted by Baconcat on May 26, 2009 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Greg 3
How sweet is this. The anti-gay forces might challenge their own referendum's title. It's like the Psychosis Gun.
Posted by Greg on May 26, 2009 at 5:18 PM · Report this
4
I find it hilarious that the writers of 71 are challenging their own damn referendum but Lisa Stone needs to realize that politics is a dirty filthy game and if you aren't willing to sling some mud back, then you need to get out of the business and let those of us not afraid of winning play the game.
Posted by Play Dirty for Once on May 26, 2009 at 9:03 PM · Report this

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