Pot’s Lost Names

Your signature to put legalization on the ballot may never have seen the light of day.

At press time, the Secretary of State’s office had certified just one initiative for the November ballot—I-1100, which seeks to privatize liquor sales in Washington. In the coming days, state staffers will spot-check petitions and then likely certify five more (including a second, competing liquor bill).

But one of the most popular measures, the marijuana-legalization initiative, or I-1068, is not among them. I-1068 organizers threw in the towel July 1, a day before the deadline to submit signatures, saying they had fallen about 40,000 to 50,000 names short of the 241,000 minimum needed.

Yet the failure of I-1068 may have nothing to do with how many people actually signed up to put it on the ballot.

As we reported last month [“Pot: The Gateway Petition,” June 30], the legalization measure was frequently used by professional signature-gatherers working for other campaigns as a come-on to get people to stop. But while other initiative-backers were paying signature-gatherers as much as $3 per name, the pot campaign had no such money to offer. Which means that even though they filled up petitions, the signature-gatherers had no incentive to turn those petitions in to I-1068 organizers—no financial one, at least.

Longtime political consultant Cindi Laws, who did some work on I-1068, thinks there are plenty of signatures out there—and plenty of people who thought they were helping the measure get on the ballot—who were never seen or heard.

“Wherever I went in the state,” Laws tells the Weekly, “I saw packs of paid signature-gatherers, all with I-1068 at the top of their piles…After working on more than a dozen initiative campaigns, I’ve never witnessed an easier signature to get. I have no doubt that I-1068 had enough signatures gathered; but bounty hunters want to be paid, even when they made bank on the backs of I-1068.” MARK D. FEFER

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