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Signature check underway for Eyman’s I-517

by Adam Noble | January 15th, 2013

I-517 signature count

An Elections Division worker counts I-517 signatures in advance of Tuesday’s start of its signature check. 

Signature checking begins soon for the two initiatives to the Legislature that were submitted to the state Elections Division by the Jan. 4 deadline. Signature checking for Initiative 517 starts Tuesday, and the signature check for I-522 is expected to commence around Friday.

Initiative activist Tim Eyman is championing I-517, dubbed the “Protect the Initiative Act.” Eyman’s latest ballot offering would set penalties for interfering with or retaliating against signature-gatherers and petition-signers; require that all measures receiving sufficient signatures appear on the ballot, limit pre-election legal challenges; and extend time for gathering initiative petition signatures from six months to one year.

I-522, sponsored by Chris McManus, deals with labeling of most raw farm commodities, processed foods and seeds if genetically engineered.

Supporters of I-517 turned in an estimated 345,000 signatures to the Elections Division, and I-522 backers submitted an estimated 350,000 sigs. To be certified, an initiative must contain the signatures of at least 241,153 registered voters and it is recommended that sponsors submit at least 320,000 signatures to allow for invalid signatures. The Secretary of State’s Elections Division staff will randomly sample 3 percent of the signatures for validity. Elections Division officials hope to complete the I-517 check late this week and the I-522 review next week. Both are expected to be certified and forwarded to the Legislature.

Because both are initiatives to the Legislature, they will go first to the lawmakers, who began their 105-day regular session Monday.

Legislators have three options for each measure: pass it into law as is, let it go to the November ballot for a public vote, or send it and a legislative alternative to the ballot and let voters decide which, if either, they want to support. The typical initiative to the Legislature takes the second path, going on to the General Election ballot. One or both chambers may hold public hearings on either or both initiatives.

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