By July 6 at 5 p.m., sponsors who wish to put initiatives before voters in Washington’s General Election in September must submit 259,622 valid signatures to the Office of Secretary of State. If that number isn’t daunting enough, the office’s Elections Division recommends aiming for at least 325,000 signatures to secure a spot on the ballot — allowing space for invalid and duplicate signatures.
It’s not too surprising, then, that in this final week of signature-gathering, there have been accusations of wrongful practices.
“Our office has received reports from people who believe signatures are being gathered illegally or deceptively — and that could be true,” Wyman said. “Every voter being asked to sign a petition needs to exercise their right and responsibility to read the information on each signature page before they sign it.”
Volunteers and legally paid signature gatherers alike scope out potential supporters; both are protected under the First Amendment as they discuss initiatives with voters. Washington state does require, however, that signatures be voluntary, and that full ballot title and initiative petition appear on every page bearing a signature.
Complaints about unlawful collection of signatures should be filed with the state Office of the Attorney General.