This landmark $15 minimum wage bill will not be subject to a referendum this fall.
Today's numbers are in, and it looks like the referendum campaign to put Seattle's $15 minimum wage on the ballot this fall has failed. While King County Elections is still counting signatures, at this point, it's mathematically impossible at this point for the referendum campaign to get enough valid signatures to succeed.
Those numbers: King County Elections had reviewed 15,004 signatures by the end of today and verified 11,412 of them. Since there are only 3,924 signatures left to review, even if every last one of the remaining signatures were valid, it wouldn't add up to the required 16,510 needed to qualify for the ballot. (So far, the validation rate is about 76 percent.)
A second referendum campaign on the minimum wage separately turned in 568 signatures, all of which have been reviewed and 456 of which are valid. Even if those 456 could be counted—we're waiting to hear from the city clerk's office if separate referendums on the same issue can be counted together—they still wouldn't add up to 16,510.
So, we can finally say it: The first wave of $15 minimum wage repeal looks to have been defeated. (Goldy will certainly want some credit here for calling it yesterday.) There will be more repeal efforts, including a statewide initiative in 2015 led by Tim Eyman. But this was the first big one, and $15 still lives.
Who defeated this first serious challenge to the new law? Was it the efficient organizing machine that is 15 Now, a group that has gotten a lot of the credit for the $15 minimum wage? No, it most certainly was not 15 Now. In fact, 15 Now was pretty damn silent while this referendum was going on. But Working Washington, a union-funded group that was organizing low-wage fast-food workers before 15 Now was a twinkle in a socialist's eye, got their hustle on when the $15 wage they fought for was threatened.
King County Elections will likely finish counting signatures tomorrow, and will then send a letter to the Seattle City Clerk's office officially declaring the referendum's sufficiency or insufficiency for the fall ballot.
UPDATE 6:00 p.m.: As reported by PubliCola, the signatures that King County Elections has not verified haven't necessarily been ruled invalid yet. They simply have not been able to be verified and have been "set aside." If the issues with those signatures are somehow rectified, they could be counted. But given that the top reasons for signatures not being verified are that the people weren't registered Seattle voters, it seems like a slim chance. But, y'know, counting chickens before they etc.