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Initiative signature requirement re-set

by David Ammons | December 5th, 2012

The task of qualifying an initiative or referendum for the Washington ballot just got a little harder.

The state Constitution pegs the number of signatures required for an initiative at 8 percent of the most recent vote for governor. The requirement for a referendum — forcing a public vote on something the Legislature has passed, as in the recent R-74 on gay marriage — is 4 percent of the governor vote.

In returns certified Wednesday, votes cast for governor this year were 3,079,639.

Thus, to earn a ballot spot for an initiative, you’ll need a bare minimum if 246,372, and for a referendum, it will be half of that, 123,186.

The old requirement, set four years ago, was for 241,153 for initiatives and 120,577 for referenda.

As a practical matter, the state Elections Division always suggests that sponsors bring in a pad of about 25 percent, since the typical error rate is about 18 percent. So that has been about 320k for initiative sponsors and now will bump up by about 5,000.

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