Eyman’s Initiative 917 Skating on Thin Ice

With only 266,000 signatures, Washington State Initiative 917 will probably require a complete check of its signatures. To qualify for the fall ballot, 224,880 valid signatures are needed. The number is equal to 8% of those who voted in the last governor’s race.

Eyman could still validate I-917 if some 41,125 signatures were invalid because of voters not being registered, registered at the wrong address or signing more than once.

An initial 10,000 signatures will be sampled by the Washington Secretary of State. The signatures will be randomly selected by a computer. The percentage of invalid signatures for  I-917 must be below 15.46% for 224,880 signatures to be valid.

The Secretary of State’s Office has said that last year the signature invalid rate ranged from 13% to 26%. One factor that would affect Eyman’s invalid rate will be how actively his paid signature gatherers asked people if they were registered to vote.

My guess is that because paid signature gatherers are paid by the signature, there is not a huge incentive to be careful. David Goldstein over at Horsesass.org in his post stated that last year’s signature invalid rate was 13%, 16%, 17%, 19%, and 26%. That’s sort of like a 1 in 5 chance of making it with the number of signatures Eyman has on I-917.

Initiative 917 is another slash and burn initiative based on the concept of individual greed. Since it does a significant repeal of existing weight fees, big cars and trucks up to 10 tons would pay the same as small cars. Tabs would be all the same at $30. Yet big cars and trucks tear up roads to a greater degree.

Eyman somehow thinks that road and transit maintenance are free, that someone else pays to keep it all going.

I-917 would repeal a major part of the transportation package the Legislature passed in 2005. Last year’s attempt to repeal the gas tax lost at the polls. This measure goes after the other part of that transportation package and would remove $2.7 billion targeted to meet transportation needs in the state. I-917 also would repeal funding for Sound Transit, which is one of Eyman’s pet project. He would rather see more cars on the road than pay for transit.

If by some fluke I-917 squeaks past the Secretary of State by having enough valid signatures, it could still be challenged in court on the basis of not having enough petitioners sign their declaration that they personally collected the signatures. Some 3000 petitions, according to Goldstein’s article did not have the petitioner’s signature.

We posted on this issue last week. McKenna’s legal opinion on Ballot Petitions Aids and Abets this Year’s Right Wing Initiative Campaigns. The issue could be ripe for opponents to file a court challenge based on the those 3000 petitions without the signatures of paid signature gatherers.The combination of invalid signatures of voters and petitions not signed by those who gathered the signatures as required by law would be a lethal combination.

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