Tim Eyman’s Initiative 917 to cut transportation funding in Washington State is in deep trouble because he literally weights his boxes of petitions to determine how many petitions, and I guess signatures, he has. It seems he has trouble with large numbers so counting and weighting boxes is his alternative.
While Eyman claims he turned in 300,353 signatures, the Secretary of State tallied the signatures they received and found only 266,006. This means I-917 is in danger of not being validated.
Eyman claims he has no count of the actual number of petitions for I-917 he turned into the Washington Secretary of State. He says he never did that for any of his campaigns. He has no photocopies of the petitions. Instead he weighs his I-917 petitions but then didn’t keep any record of what they weighed. .
It’s fine with me. I’m glad Eyman still hasn’t figured out how to do initiative campaigns after all these years. I’m just laughing. I thought he was stupid when he printed up petitions a few years ago that had the incorrect text on the back. I thought he was stupid when he printed up petitions this year that had an almost impossible to find declaration on the back of the petition that petitioners needed to sign.
Then Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna came to his rescue a month ago to help him by saying the law the Washington State Legislature wrote really meant the opposite of what it said. I wonder if Rob McKenna also advised Eyman about this bizarre procedure of weighting petition boxes to qualify an initiative.
Eyman claimed he weighted the boxes and wrote the weight on the boxes he turned into the Secretary of State, but Eyman kept no record of those weights. The Secretary of State recycled the boxes, not knowing anything about Eyman’s unique way of “knowing” how many signatures he had. Who would?
I have turned in petitions for a number of campaigns before, including I-394, I-61, I-547, I-97, I-99, and others but have never thought of weighting boxes of petitions to figure out how many petitions and signatures we had. But we did keep a tally of petition sheets and numbers of signatures.
Somehow Eyman got a signature count which he claims was 300,353. To “verify” it, he did what many conservative think tanks do. They manipulate the media. They know their figures are inaccurate or made up or questionable if coming directly from them. . But they only need one media source to quote what they said. Then they claim the media who quoted them as the source of the information next time they talk about it. You know, “Today the Seattle Times said …..” . Now the Seattle Times is the source of the inaccurate or misleading information.
Eyman, obviously knowing he did not have enough signatures, used a hand written note with his purported signature count on it. He asked the receptionist in the Washington State Secretary of State’s office to hand stamp the note when he turned his petitions in with the signatures. He had the media photograph it. Now he could claim that the Secretary of State’s Offices had accepted that many signatures. It’s a pretty cheap trick.
You can actually see this bogus receipt that Eyman claims in the Spokane Review article by Rich Roessler. But he and everyone else knows this is not a receipt with any legal standing. The receptionist is just that, a receptionist. She didn’t make any count of the signatures nor does she have any legal standing to sign any receipt. Eyman knows that. The signature count is his, not hers.
The whole thing thing is a fool’s play. It’s a con game. Eyman’s turned in enough petitions before for initiative campaigns to know how it works. He knows full well the Secretary of State’s office doesn’t count the signatures the day you turn them in. What they do is publicly count the number of petition sheets that actually get turned in and you get a receipt for that.
The petitions are then copied and counting of actual signatures is done the next day. All transfer of petitions for copying and counting is accompanied by a member of the State Patrol.
If Eyman knew how many signatures he had, he would also have an idea of the minimum number of petition sheets he had to turn in. Not every petition sheet is full,but iIf every sheet were full of signatures, at 20 a page, he needed to turn in a minimum of 15,177 sheets to reach 300,352. The 34,346 signatures of this count that Eyman claimed to have turned in, but didn’t, would equal some 1728 sheets if every sheet had 20 signatures. But Eyman hasn’t been saying the petition count he got was wrong. Seems he wasn’t paying any attention to this.
What is disturbing about this is that Eyman gets so much media play for this little farce of his. Any fool with enough money can get an initiative on the ballot but Eyman, even with a sugar money daddy named Michael Dunmire, still stumbles around, bungling simple record keeping. This a guy who likes to criticize state government, but he can’t even run his small 3 person campaign.
At some point more of the media will see Eyman for the fool he is, but giving any credence to his false claim that the signatures were stolen, is no more than Eyman continuing to play with the media.
He is trying to keep his campaign business alive and knows that the media loves drama. How interesting would it be to say: “I messed up and can’t even add up how many petitions and signatures I have. I have trouble counting and keeping track of large numbers, like over 100,000, so instead I weight boxes.” ?
But the press will surely bite on: “I turned in enough signatures and they stole them.” The lie gets you more coverage than the truth. Yell loud and cry foul. It worked for Rossi.
But Eyman’s day of reckoning is coming this week. Verification of a sample of signatures on I-917 should be done this week. As I posted recently, Eyman needs to have less that 15.57% of his signatures invalid. He’s never done that. It’s been noted that his previous initiatives have had invalid rates of 16% to 23%. If we’re lucky, wonder boy Eyman will show us once again what incompetence really is.
You can also read more at Postman on Politics and Andrew over at NPI Blog and Michael Hood at Blatherwatch. Blatherwatch is particularly interesting in that Eyman is meeting with a lot of skepticism on right-wing radio, eg John Carlson and Dori Monson.