I-1433 sponsor Ariana Davis addresses the media after initiative signatures were delivered to the Elections Division Wednesday morning.
If last week was “Shark Week” on TV, this must be “Initiative Week” for our Elections Division.
Signatures for Initiative 1433, the minimum wage measure, were submitted to the Elections Division office in Olympia Wednesday, the first of five initiative campaigns that scheduled turn-in appointments this week. Friday is the deadline.
I-1433 sponsors said they turned in about 360,000 signatures. That’s far more than the 246,372 valid signatures necessary to qualify for the statewide General Election ballot this fall. The Elections Division always recommends submitting at least 325,000, to allow for duplicate or invalid signatures.
I-1433 would raise the state’s minimum wage for adult employees to $11 in 2017 and eventually reach $13.50 by 2020. The current minimum wage, which is adjusted annual under an earlier initiative, is now $9.47. I-1433 also deals with paid sick leave. The measure’s full text can be viewed here.
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 rejection rate is 18 percent.
Because such a large number of signatures were turned in, Elections Division officials said I-1433 will undergo a 3 percent random sample check instead of a review of all submitted signatures. If history is a guide, the measure will earn a place on the ballot.
The signature check for I-1433 is expected to begin July 18 and take about three or four working days to complete.
On Thursday, sponsors planned to turn in signatures for I-1491, which would allow police, family, or household members to obtain court orders temporarily preventing firearms access by persons exhibiting mental illness, violent or other behavior indicating they may harm themselves or others.
On Friday, three campaigns have scheduled turn-in appointments: I-1515 (gender-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms), I-1501 (increasing penalties for criminal identity theft and consumer fraud targeting seniors and vulnerable individuals) and I-1464 (creating a state-funded campaign finance program).
As the initiative petitions arrive, an Elections Division crew does a preliminary check, looking for any obvious problems or potential fraud, repairing any damaged petitions and counting the number of petition sheets. The complete set of signatures for that initiative is sent to the state Archives for scanning and an electronic version is returned to Elections for verification. During the week of July 11, a crew will do prep work, including identification of the names to be checked under random sampling. A computer program generates the random selection.
Beginning the week of July 18, a second team will begin scrutiny of each identified signature, looking to make sure the person is a registered Washington person and that the signature matches the one on file. Any duplicates are also noted. The process takes three or four days. The initiatives are generally processed in the order received.
If an initiative campaign does not submit enough signatures to allow random sampling, all signatures must be checked, at least until the number of signatures drops below the bare minimum to get on the ballot, 246,372.
At least two shifts of workers will be needed this year.
Two other citizen-generated measures, Initiatives to the Legislature 732 (carbon taxes) and 735 (opposing Citizen United court decision), already have qualified for the fall ballot. Usually the ballot has only two or three initiatives, so this year could be above average for “direct democracy.”
One prominent sponsor, Tim Eyman, filed a number of initiatives again this year, but did not turn in any signatures. He is promoting an initiative to the 2017 Legislature, I-689, which he is calling “We Love Our Cars.”
Go here to view all of the initiatives to the people filed this year.