I Was Against It Before I Was for It: At Halfway Point, R-71 Looks Likely to Make Ballot

The Secretary of State celebrates a job half-done.
At a little over two weeks since it began counting signatures for Referendum 71--the anti-gay referendum to limit domestic partnership rights--the Secretary of State's office is almost 50% done. Unless they seriously pick up the pace, the count won't be finished until somewhere around Labor Day. (I have a call in with the Secretary of State to see when they expect to be done.) Until then, we have daily signature counts. Early counts showed high error rates, but that was largely because the Secretary of State didn't distinguish between signatures that had been rejected outright and those that had been rejected pending further review. A lot of those rejections were reversed, and the error rate now sits at 11.03%, well below the 12.42% that would be the highest with which the measure could make the ballot. Darryl at Horse's Ass ran some statistical projections on this data and found the measure had a 99.97% probability of making it to the ballot.

Which makes this as good a time as any to remind you, as you've likely been reminded before, that if you opposed putting it on the ballot, you'll want to vote for it once it's there. All referendums just reintroduce the law they were intended to repeal, so an "approve" vote means you want to approve the law to expand domestic partnership benefits.

"We're worried about wrong-way voters," said Washington Families Standing Together spokesperson Josh Friedes, in reference to voters who unintentionally vote the opposite of what they intend on ballot measures. "It's a huge problem."

Friedes said the group's also worried about the potentially short interval between the measure being certified and mail-in ballots being sent out. "When the [referendum] process was originally created, we didn't have vote by mail. We don't know how long this is going to take to certify. Then ballots are going to drop in mid-October. It's not a whole lot of time to educate and have a conversation with the public."

Should it be on the ballot, there's a decent indication that the voting public is already on board with approving it (at least, as long as the turnout isn't all old folks): A UW survey from October 2008 found that 66% of the state's voters support equal rights (without the title of "marriage") for gay couples.

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