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I-591 camp turns in sigs; 2014 gun-rights ballot battle looms

by Brian Zylstra | November 21st, 2013

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I-591 sponsor Alan Gottlieb delivers boxes of signatures to the Elections Division.

It’s looking more likely that Washington will be an election battleground state for gun rights in 2014, as backers of a pro-gun initiative submitted what they say are more than 340,000 signatures to our Elections Division Thursday.

Initiative 591 prohibits government agencies from confiscating guns or other firearms from citizens without due process, or from requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required.

In early October, sponsors of a competing gun-related measure, I-594, turned in an estimated 250,000 signatures to the Elections Division. I-594 requires universal background checks on gun purchases.

Both I-591 and I-594, which are initiatives to the Legislature, were filed with our office earlier this year. Sponsors for either measure have until Jan. 3 to submit additional signatures. Either initiative needs at least 246,372 valid voter signatures to qualify. Our Elections Division recommends that initiative sponsors submit at least 325,000 signatures to provide a cushion to cover duplicate or invalid signatures. The average error rate is 18 percent.

Because Jan. 3 is the signature deadline for initiatives to the Legislature, the Elections Division won’t start checking signatures on I-591 or I-594 until after that date.  Both campaigns plan to continue gathering signatures, and expect to qualify.  I-591′s estimated 340k already would be more than 100,000 more than sufficient, but I-594 backers still need additional signatures to allow for invalid or duplicate signatures.  Both are well-heeled campaigns.

In the meantime, signatures for both initiatives will be secured and sealed after the petition pages are digitized by the State Archives.

If validated, the measures would go first to the 2014 Legislature, which can approve, ignore or reject either or both and then allow it/them to go to the fall 2014 ballot, or write a legislative alternative that would accompany the initiative to the ballot. Most observers assume that lawmakers will simply allow both rival measures to go the ballot.

Go here to view all of the initiatives to the people and initiatives to the Legislature filed this year.

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