Our initiative process, from filing to checking

Our initiative process, from filing to checking


Signature checkers review signatures for I-732.

With Washington’s initiative process under way, you might wonder what it takes to get an initiative onto the ballot.

After an initiative is filed with our office, it is sent to the Code Reviser for editing. However, the sponsor decides what version to submit as final text. Upon receipt of the final text, we assign a number and send it to the Office of Attorney General for a ballot title and summary. If the sponsor (or any person) is dissatisfied with either, they can seek an expedited judicial review.

After these hurdles are cleared, sponsors may begin collecting signatures. Although an initiative officially needs at least 246,372 signatures to qualify, we suggest at least 325,000 to account for invalid and duplicated signatures.

Signatures are then submitted to our Elections Division. After Elections staffers count the number of petition sheets, these sheets are taken to our State Archives, where they are scanned and digitized for review. As long as an initiative substantially exceeds the minimum signature requirement, our Elections Division can verify the initiative with a random 3 percent sample of the total amount. If an initiative undergoes a 3 percent check, Elections workers randomly select signatures for the check. Then a team of signature checkers gets busy.

About 20 workers have begun a random sample verification for I-732 (carbon pollution tax). Over the next several days, these workers will verify signatures using our Voter Registration Database. If this random sample shows enough valid signatures, our office will certify the initiative, sending it to the Legislature. If, however, the random sample indicates less than enough valid signatures, our Elections Division proceeds with a full review of every submitted signature. The signature check for I-735 (Government of, by, and for the People Act) will begin when the I-732 check is completed, both of which have been provisionally certified by our office.

Filing is now open for Initiatives to the People. July 8 is the deadline to submit signatures for such initiatives.

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