Superior Court judge dismisses R-71 challenge but states concerns about signatures
SEATTLE, Washington: King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector dismissed a lawsuit against Washington Referendum 71 Wednesday morning, on the grounds that the lawsuit was filed in the wrong county. The lawsuit specifically calls for an injunction on R-71 and challenges the referendum's valid signature count. According to state law, however, any challenge to the secretary of state must be filed in Thurston County, where the state capitol in Olympia is located.
In addition to Judge Spector's dismissal of the case, Spector highlighted areas of "deficiency" in the signatures and petitions accepted by Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed. Just this week, Reed announced that R-71 had 121,847 valid signatures, enough to place the measure on the November 2009 ballot. On Wednesday, Spector noted, however, that several thousand signatures may in fact be invalid because some petitions do not include the gatherer's signature on the affidavit on the back of the petition as required by law; there may have been misrepresentation of the petition; and although some petition signers registered to vote at the time they signed the petition, they were not registered prior to signing as required by law. Despite the questionable status of the petitions and the dismissal of the case, Spector said, "under Washington case law it is unclear whether there are any limits to the Secretary of State's discretion as long as he has chosen to accept petitions rather than reject them."
- Associated Press, "Washington judge rejects challenge to R-71," September 2, 2009
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Judge recognized alleged fraud by anti equality activists Protect Marriage Washington," September 2, 2009
- Washington Secretary of State's blog, "R-71: Signature-count edges to finish line," September 1, 2009