If it seems like the process of counting the valid signatures Referendum 71 petitions has taken forever, that's because it has. (R-71 would subject the legislature's expansion of domestic partnership benefits to a public vote.) With most referendums and initiatives, explains Secretary of State spokesperson David Ammons, the supporters turn in enough petitions that the Secretary of State's office can use an algorithm given them by UW professors, test a random sampling of the petitions, and determine from that whether the measure should make the ballot. R-71's supporters didn't turn in enough for that, so we're stuck with a count all the way through.
So far, it's taken a little over two weeks to get halfway done, and Ammons says that even if it means the counters work Saturdays, the counting will be finished in another two weeks--i.e. by the end of the month. (After that, expect lawsuits.) Statistical projections show that, despite a very slightly rising error rate (well within normal variation, and also natural, because the number of duplicate signatures increases exponentially as the count proceeds) the referendum looks exceedingly likely to be on the ballot. In fact, 99.97% likely.
But what's math when you have bigotry on your side? Gary Randall of the Faith & Freedom Network (big supporters of R-71) says the error rate has increased because "speed has replaced accuracy" in the count. The culprits? The "homosexual lobby" and Secretary of State Sam Reed, who "has been an avid supporter of the homosexual agenda. They have a friend in the secretary." In other news, Gary thinks math is gay.