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I-594 signature check begins

by Gracelin Moore | January 16th, 2014

SignatureChecker

A checker counts some of the signatures submitted for I-594. (Photo courtesy Lindsay Pryor)

Initiative I-594, one of two rival initiatives to the 2014 Legislature dealing with gun control, is now undergoing a signature check. Our Elections Division has a team of signature checkers who began working on Initiative 594 on Thursday.

I-594 would require universal background checks on gun purchases in Washington. The initiative would expand on current federal gun laws that apply to licensed dealers but not private sellers. The measure’s sponsors turned in nearly 350,000 signatures by the Jan. 3 submission deadline for initiatives to the Legislature.

Elections officials expect it will take six working days to finish the I-594 check. Once finished, checkers will focus on another gun-related measure, I-591. That initiative would prohibit requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required. The initiative would also prohibit the potential future passage of any state law that allowed government agencies to confiscate firearms from citizens without due process. I-591 sponsors delivered about 345,000 signatures. The I-591 check should also take six working days, according to Elections officials.

Current Washington state gun laws

Elections Division officials say I-594 is being checked first because its signature petition sheets were submitted before the I-591 sheets were turned in. Officials anticipate both measures have enough signatures to conduct a 3 percent random sample check instead of having to check all of the submitted signatures.

A random sample check compares about 10,400 signatures from the petition sheets to the statewide voter registration database. If the number of invalid signatures surpasses 20 percent of those randomly checked, a full check of every signature is conducted. Duplicate signatures are the most frequently invalidated, said Elections Officials, although signatures from non-registered signers, out-of-state signers, and fictitious signers are also invalidated.

If validated, as expected, the two measures will go to the 2014 Legislature, which could approve either or both measures as submitted, ignore or reject them and allow them to go to the 2014 General Election ballot. The legislature could also choose to write alternatives that would accompany the initiatives to the fall ballot.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman has already provisionally certified both measures to the Legislature since they have far more than the minimum number of valid signatures required. The provisional certification means that the House and Senate can now start scheduling committee hearings on either or both measures instead of waiting until the sample checks are completed.

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