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Monday, August 9, 2010

R-71 Signature Case Stopped All Initiatives Forever

Posted by on Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 12:15 PM

When the Supreme Court recently ruled that names and other information on petition sheets are a matter of public record—upholding a state law that always said they were public record—the folks trying to hide their names became outraged. They declared it a travesty of judicial activism that would expose the signers of Referendum 71, the people who wanted to vote on taking away the rights of gay couples, to public scrutiny and harassment. The very possibility that the names could be released chilled the initiative process; people would stop signing petitions!

So what happened while this case was pending? A record 75 petitions were filed this year. Six of them qualified for the ballot—matching a modern record for most number of qualified initiatives in 2000. The Secretary of State's Office counted 2.2 million signatures in all. By all reasonable estimates, this year set a state record for the number of petition signatures.

Nick Handy, the Director of Elections who works for Secretary of State Sam Reed, recently commented:

"We have heard some critics say that people will be less willing to take part in the initiative process this year, given all the talk of the Secretary of State's policy of allowing public release of petitions. But we are certainly not seeing any hesitation at all."

So how could Gary Randall—the leading voice of R-71 and man of questionable ethics—spin this? He just put up a post about it:

What the Secretary "is not seeing" is that 2.2 million people did not sign petitions this summer because he has promised to disclose their names to the public to be harvested for direct marketing and in the case of R-71, personal attacks, threats and harassment.

It must have taken a trash compactor to squeeze so much bullshit into one sentence. To believe Randall, you must believe that the only reason people didn't file an initiative or sign a petition is because of the state policy to release the names and the Supreme Court's ruling (which came down as the petitions were being circulated). But the state and Reed have always had this policy, the Public Records Act. We can also flip this absurd logic to reach in an equally absurd conclusion: Inverse to the fact that a record number of people did sign, there were arguable fewer people than ever who didn't sign. So if the R-71 dispute was the deciding factor, and fewer people than ever didn't sign petitions, then—to use Randall's logic—the R-71 case made more people sign petitions. And it made more people file initiatives. And that reasoning boggles the mind.

Two more legal hurdles are ahead before the R-71 case will conclude, actually making the petition signers' names public. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Settle will hear a case and then a Thurston County Curt judge will hear arguments—both to lift lower court blocks on the signatures. Randall and company will again make their case that gay people are a violent threat to people who sign petitions, and they will, presumably, lose again.


Comments (9) RSS

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Canuck 1
If you wouldn't be proud to have your name on a petition, you probably shouldn't sign it.
Posted by Canuck on August 9, 2010 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 2
What's the usual speed of those courts? What kind of ballpark ETA are we down to now?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 9, 2010 at 12:23 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 3
Is anyone else still confused about the two Sell Alcohol To Kids At Streetcorner Bodegas initiatives?
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 9, 2010 at 12:43 PM · Report this
rob! 4
@1, that should be the Thurston County "Curt" judge's inevitably terse ruling.
Posted by rob! on August 9, 2010 at 1:22 PM · Report this
OuterCow 5
If Randall can read minds, "I know 2.2 million did not sign because of X" shouldn't he be able to find a better use of his time? Like say accurately predicting the supposed coming gay-lead violence like in Minority Report so his homophobe friends can best protect themselves from the Gay Avengers?

C’mon, you have psychic powers, man, be creative!Take James Randi's Million Dollar Challenge(assuming you’re able to read the minds of homophobes under laboratory conditions). Easy funding for your cause man, why are you spurning it when it’s right there for the taking?
Posted by OuterCow on August 9, 2010 at 1:38 PM · Report this
Geni 6
God, if only people WOULD stop signing the fucking initiative petitions. Most initiatives are poorly-thought-out, badly-written, hopelessly unConstitutional, and a total waste of time. Face it, your average Joe on the street is not qualified to write legislation. But any yokel who can convince enough people to sign his petition can get the thing on the ballot, no matter how lame-brained it might be.
Posted by Geni on August 9, 2010 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Merlin D. Bear 7
Wait... now we're a violent threat?
This is what I get for skipping all those damn Homosexual Agenda parties and cake sales.
Posted by Merlin D. Bear on August 9, 2010 at 5:16 PM · Report this
I have in my hand a list of 2.2 million people who did not sign petitions this summer.
Posted by dwight moody on August 9, 2010 at 6:01 PM · Report this
josh 9
@6 the only initiative I'll sign is one to shut down the initiative process for good.
Posted by josh on August 10, 2010 at 9:36 AM · Report this

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