July 24, 2006
I-917 signature kerfuffle

Today's developments in Tim Eyman's kerfuffle with the Secretary of State's Office regarding the signature count for the I-917 $30 car tab initiatitive. Eyman made this statement this morning to dispute the report that the Secretary of State issued a receipt for 265,809 signatures, and also distributed his photo of a stamped receipt for 300,353 signatures. I asked Nick Handy from the Secretary of State's Office for a response. Handy replied:

I was not present at the time, but my understanding is that Tim Eyman appeared at the Secretary of State's Office with a letter he had written indicating that he was submitting 300,353 signatures to the office.

At the front desk, he asked our receptionist to date stamp his letter as received. After she did this, he turned to the press and announced that the Office of Secretary of State had just acknowledged receipt of 300,353 signatures. Of course, we were just acknowledging receipt of a letter written by Tim Eyman claiming he was submitting 300,353 signatures. We had not counted teh pages or the signatures on his petitions at that time.

At that same time, we counted the pages (not the signatures) in either his presence or the presence of his team and issued a receipt to him indicating that on that day, July 7, he had submitted 2,716 pages (not signatures) to our office. Previously on June 29, he submitted 14,270 pages (not signatures) to our office. So, we issued receipts to him for 16,986 pages (not signatures) for this petition.

After counting the pages, we sent the petitions to our Archives division where each page was microfilmed. After getting the pages back from Archives, we counted the signatures for the first time and advised Tim Eyman at that time of the "signature count." He requested that rerecount the signatures and, at his request, and with his observers present, we recounted the signatures the next day. Our final count on the number of signatures is 266,006.

So, in summary, our office never issued a receipt to Mr. Eyman for 300,353 signatures.

An article in the media did later indicate that our office issued a receipt for "signatures" upon receiving the petitions and that was was not correct. I believe Joanie Nacke in our office called the reporter immediately to advise of the error.
This would not be the first time that an initiative sponsor had a dispute with the Secretary of State's office regarding a signature count. In 1994 the BIAW sponsored an initiative to the Legislature, I-164. It eventually qualified, but not before allegations that then Secretary Ralph Munro and his staff made math errors, lost signatures and used an arbitrary and unreliable signature verification process.

Another important point here is that the initiative's qualification is based in part on comparing signatures on the petitions against signatures on voter registration forms. Given everything we've learned in the last year and a half about the verification of signatures on mail ballots, it's not clear that this process is sufficiently accurate to make a close call.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at July 24, 2006 09:03 AM | Email This
1. Eyman did get a receipt for his alleged 300k signatures, but they had not been counted by the clerk or anyone else in the Secretary of State's office.

The fact is that the receipt does not prove that Eyman turned in 300k signatures, but it certainly doesn't prove that the Secretary of State only received 265k.

Eyman alleges that he requested the boxes be returned so he could weigh them and re-estimate the number of petitions, but the Secretary of State had recycled the boxes, making a post-audit impossible. So now it's a clash between Eyman's claim of what was turned in - and allegedly verified by his staff and the firms hired to obtain the signatures - versus the Secretary of State's Office that either didn't get the petitions that Eyman claims, or either accidentally or intentionally disappeared some of them.

If government was looking for a strategy for preventing certain measures from the ballot, this would certainly be one - and not something that I would dismiss.

On the other hand, if I was short signatures at deadline time, this might be a strategy to obtain some relief when validation might fall short. I wouldn't put that past anyone either.

Will we ever know the truth? Not likely.

Stefan makes another good point. With information that anyone could obtain from King County's website, including signatures on posted documents, anyone could sign a petition for someone else and the real voter would never be able to determine whether it had happened or not. For companies that make their livlihood gathering signatures, wouldn't this be a very cost-effective approach to avoiding travel and staffing of petition signing posts?

One thing is certain, we may require databases for every initiative to simply allow voters to validate their participation, or to validate that they did not participate in a petition without their knowing.

Posted by: MJC on July 24, 2006 09:22 AM
2. As much good as eyman has done for the voters of Washington, a hand-written number on a sheet of paper with a 'Received' stamp is not very persuasive.

At a minimum, he should have gotten a signed receipt for the number of pages submitted.

That said, it would not surprise me if Reed attempted to "hide" signatures, but Eyman needs to make a si=omewhat better case for the time being.

Posted by: Don on July 24, 2006 09:27 AM
3. heh, heh, heh.

Eyeman the pieman has cried wolf so many times, no one is listening now. However, a number written on a piece of paper! PURE GENIOUS!

Posted by: rossi too on July 24, 2006 10:03 AM
4. My question on the missing signature issue:

Reed's office counted the number of pages in the presence of Eyman and his supporters. They came up with 16,986 pages.

Does Reed's office still have 16,986 pages?

Posted by: Richard Pope on July 24, 2006 10:40 AM
5. So, did he have this kind of "receipt" for all of his other ballot measures was this a something new?

Posted by: Michele on July 24, 2006 11:04 AM
6. I'm no "genious" but with all of the problems in this state that we've had with ballot counting, why am I not surprised about this latest snafu?

It's no secret that bureaucrats statewide absolutely hate Eyeman and his initiatives. And everybody also knows that it's the counters not the voters who control things around here.

Posted by: G Jiggy on July 24, 2006 11:23 AM
7. I thought Dean Logan had already moved to L.A.? No?

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 24, 2006 12:54 PM
8. A few quick questions.

1. Was every page filled with signatures?

2. If every page was not filled then how many were there that were not filled?

Perhaps this could make this whole thing a little easier to figure out. And like Richard Pope said are there still 16,986 pages still in the SEC State's office?

Posted by: TrueSoldier on July 24, 2006 01:11 PM
9. I've been following this issue pretty closely and appreciate SP putting up all sides of this issue. What I have not seen is some pretty fundamental questions and answers. To wit:

1. Why would Eyman lie about the number of signatures he submitted?

2. Why would Eyman's campaign not make copies of the petitions? Heck, even at $.10 per page it would only cost about $1700 (out of about a $350,000 campaign).

3. Why would anybody at the SOS risk their jobs and their freedom to "pilfer" the petitions?

4. If I-917 does not qualify, will this mean that Eyman is effectively crippled?

5. Even if the SOS has "recycled" the petitions, doesn't having the petitions on microfilm provide sufficient evidence as to the number of petitions?

These are just some of the questions that I have. I would like to see the readers answers. In the interest of full - disclosure, I will provide my answers to the above questions.

1. Because he lies to himself and others and needs the attention.

2. I have no idea, but if he was so meticulous about his "process", you'd think that this would be low hanging fruit.

3. I don't believe anyone would risk their job and jail time.

4. I don't know. Eyman may never go away. As long as there is voter miscontent, he has a base.

5. As I understand the microfilm process, yes.

Posted by: Ed Scherer on July 24, 2006 01:27 PM
10. This incident has a familiar ring to it. Nick (why is he still their) Handy proved to all viewers of the trial that he is nothing more and perhaps much less then then a cheerleader for the election establishment. The Secretary of State Office and Tim Eyman are both crying foul. On the one hand Tim presented a number of signatures; on the other hand Nick Handy of the SSO clearly states that Tim's numbers don't add up. Why did the second count reveal additional signatures? And given the 2004 election fiasco and aftermath, why should Handy be trustworthy? It appears only one party in this debate may change actual results. And that party has a history of doing so in past elections and counts. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Unfornately, tabs will continue to increase in price.

Posted by: Snuffy on July 24, 2006 01:35 PM
11. Ed Scherer

It seems that your answer to your 3 question is a proper knee-jerk reaction of an honest person. I will remind you that many government workers risked their careers during the election of 2004. However, none have paid the price or suffered any jail time for their "accidents" or "mistakes".

Posted by: Snuffy on July 24, 2006 01:41 PM
12. Why is Eyman even running yet another 30 dollar tabs initiative which the courts will throw out? or the legislature will jack with in a couple of years? or a county or two or three or four will continue to collect the old amount anyway?

Here is an alternative strategy. My Eyman and all his 30 dollar tab supporters should

1) Peel the State tab off the plate of all their vehicles, and throw it away.

2) Mail 30 dollars per vehicle to the State each year.

3) Be prepared to go to jail. (One cannot just pay the fee. You've go to court, get convicted, and refuse to pay the fine - do the time.)

If ten thousand Washingtonians did this and even 100 went to jail for it (likely, it wouldn't even take that many) the extra tab fees (above 30 dollars) would go away for a long, long, time.

Posted by: Jericho on July 24, 2006 01:57 PM
13. Snuffy, I guess that makes me an honest person. Thanks for the compliment. :)

Posted by: Ed Scherer on July 24, 2006 01:58 PM
14. Ed Scheer, here are my answers.

1. Who knows if he is lying.

2. Good question. It would make sense to have copies.

3. The 2004 election fiasco proved that very few people ever get prosecutted for wrong doing at the government level in this state when it comes to elections.

4. Doubt it. It isnt the first time things didnt work out for him.

5. It would only be the case if the microfilm was before anything was recycled or not.

Who knows what the truth is in this situation and who knows if we ever will know. If there was any wrong doing I would not be suprised to find out that it was only one or two people who conviently forgot to take some pages out of the box prior to recycling. It would be very hard to prove who did it and therefore next to impossible to prosecute.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on July 24, 2006 02:03 PM
15. Ed Scherer,

Public employees would more routinely risk their jobs and careers if they refused to go along with the wrongdoing they are pressured to participate in. For example, King County DOT whistleblowers who alleged improper and illegal actions by their colleagues and managers found themselves the target of retaliation, demotion, and threats of termination.

In fact, if you live in King County, your tax dollars, to the tune of more than a million bucks as of last year, had been spent by King County on private counsel to defend the alleged improper and illegal actions by county planners and their managers.

The King County Council is planning in minutes today to approve another huge development made possible as a result of this alleged wrongdoing, where the alleged wrongdoers will certainly be rewarded for their actions, while the whistleblowers struggle to rebuild promising careers.

Bottom line, if you can establish a significant political motive for wrongdoing by government, I think it's more likely that it will occur than not.

In the case of an Eyman initiative that is very close to making the ballot or not, I wouldn't put it past Olympia to lose some signatures. Not in a second.

Posted by: MJC on July 24, 2006 02:07 PM
16. Ed automatically assumes that Eyeman is the one who is lying when the state has the proven track record in that regard. At this point we now know who he supports. He could have said: "One of the two parties here is lying and it will be tough to find out." That would be the response of a non-partisan.

Can Ed please prove where Eyeman "lies to himself". Don't bother, it will probably be some partisan screed along the lines of "Bush lied . . . "

Why would there be a need to copy? Isn't the state competent, fair and protective of our right to initiative? (Ha! Ha! Ha!, sometimes I crack myself up!).

Anyway, Snuffy pretty much covers my thoughts for Ed with the exception of the "honest person", part. Ed just tried to make it look that way.

Posted by: G Jiggy on July 24, 2006 02:12 PM
17. Jiggy, I appreciate your comments, but think about it this way - The State gives Eyman a receipt for approx. 17,000 petition pages. Isn't it way too easy to examine the microfilm and see if it contains the same #? I am assuming that if there is a lie, it is Eyman that is doing the lying. However, it is impossible to prove one way or the other with him. With the SOS, it would seem very easy to prove.

Posted by: Ed Scherer on July 24, 2006 02:23 PM
18. Yes, it would seem that a proper accounting would be easy to prove, so why has thing gone on as long as it has? The state controls the MF. I believe it's their move.

Maybe Eyeman can go to court to get access to the MF and then the state can stall for a few months until the election is over. Then the state will announce that Tim DID have enough signatures but made a mistake. Does any of that sound familiar?

Posted by: G Jiggy on July 24, 2006 03:48 PM
19. Jiggy, I am not nearly enough of a conspiracy buff to believe that, but, hey - knock yourself out.

Posted by: Ed Scherer on July 24, 2006 04:25 PM
20. Why not Ed it happened with the election contest. KCE kept holding back on the public disclosures requested by Stephan until after the election contes was over and look at all the information that was provided in these documents. Like G Jiggy said why havent they produced the microfilm? It could be that they are still going through it of course or it could be that it shows in favor of Eyeman or it could even be lost for all we know.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on July 24, 2006 05:18 PM
21. TrueSoldier - Why would the SOS office craft a lie that is so easy to check and disprove? It makes no sense. In listening to Tim this afternoon on the radio, his message was essentially - "Trust me, I know what I'm doing". No photocopies, no numbering of the petitions, no audit trail that can be independently verified. I think this is one dog that won't hunt.

Posted by: Ed Scherer on July 24, 2006 06:17 PM
22. HA HA HA! Better than a circus!

Posted by: Playin' Possum on July 24, 2006 06:59 PM
23. C'mon people..Eyman's connin' y'all Don't tell me you are going to fall for this you suckers..he weighed the boxes???? What kind of accurate count is that??? Whose to say the weighing was accurate unless it was done in front of the Secretay of State's witness not in some back office of Eyman's. And those 17 thousand pages turned in aren't full..some have only a few signatures on them. And he got weekly reports??Whose to say those are accurate anyone could have stuffed the count to get paid more or filled in some fake signings...give me a break this guy had to come up with some con and if you can't see thru this you really have no brain.

Posted by: Julie Wilson on July 24, 2006 09:22 PM
24. Richard Pope, #4 You are dead on my friend, and you got me really thinking on this issue. From your post, and the Tim Eyman -Sam Reed interview today, this seems very easy to rectify.

Sam Reed's office counted in front of Tim's staff the 16,986 pages (not signatures) that Tim 's staff produced.

I heard Sam Reed today state that they keep everything but did not keep the actual boxes that Tim said had the counts on the sides.

So Sam Reed should just make the 16,986 pages available for an independent review and recount.

Gregoire got 3 recounts before she claimed victory.

Tim has only gotten two thus far.

So Sam just needs to offer out the 16,986 pages, which he still has in his possession, to an independent auditor for a third recount.

Neither side disagrees at all (from what I have heard) on how many pages were accepted, it's only on the amount of signatures.

This is not rocket science.

If Sam Reed can produce the 16,986 pages which he said were still part of public record.

Verify the amount of pages is 16,986, and then count em again!

End of story!

Posted by: GS on July 24, 2006 09:59 PM
25. Julie,

Why would Eyman need to con us at all? He has had initiatives fail to make the ballot and he has had initiatives fail on election day. Neither of these scenarios has hamstrung either the ability of Permanent Offense to come up with further initiatives or the State of Washington's ability to create more issues that the people will hate and attempt to overturn.

If it fails, move on.

Posted by: Calvin A on July 25, 2006 04:57 AM
26. Is it at all possible that Eyman simply made a mistake?? Maybe he just counted wrong.

Also, what the heck is the SOS's office doing stamping a slip of paper with a number written on it? That seems kind of silly to me...

Posted by: JonS on July 25, 2006 09:44 AM
27. Julie,
Weighing to find out how many pages you have is very common and very accurate. All you have to know is the size of the paper and what kind and you know exactly how much you have. Do you know why they call a ream of 20lb paper 20lb? Because it weighs 20lbs. Printers have been doing it for as long as we have had commercial printing.

Posted by: G Jiggy on July 25, 2006 10:35 AM
28. Somebody may have already said this, but it would be really easy to plant folks within the initiative volunteers to make sure this would fail.

Posted by: Pbs7mm on July 25, 2006 11:53 AM
29. Eyman has dropped off how many of these signature petitions over the years? Now all of a sudden he decides to call foul on this one? Not bloody likely, if something stinks about this deal, I'm sure it's coming from the SOS.

Posted by: Jeffro on July 25, 2006 12:02 PM
30. Why would Eyman want to con us all?? When he realized he was cutting it close on the amount of signatures he needed to come up with a scheme to save face if he doesn't make it. He has put his life into $30 tabs and it would be humiliating to him to not make the ballot. So lets figure out how to put the blame on the government. Eyman did not have the 300 thousand signatures and he cannot prove he did. The page count is accurate and he has not disputed that.As far as weighing the pages..unless it was done in front of the other party's witness the weight on top of the box means nothing. They could add a few oz to the top of the box and if there had been a way to weigh them again the boxes would show lighter but not because pages were missing but because the written weight on top was inaccurate. This is no proof just a scheme that didn't work because the SOS recycles! This whole thing is just smoking mirrors by Eyman..he failed and he is trying to blame someone else and some suckers are falling for his con.

Posted by: Julie Wilson on July 25, 2006 12:08 PM
31. This appears simple, 16,986 pages still in public records. As public records they should be available for anyone to view that submits a proper request.

OPEN AND TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS...right...uuuhh...hmmm...?

Posted by: dl on July 25, 2006 12:15 PM
32. This should be simple. 16,986 pages of public record, which anyone should be able to view once they submit the proper request forms. Although Nick Handy cropping up again sends up some red flags for me.

ED 9.3 "Why would anyone at SOS risk thir jobs and freedom to pilfer petitions?" GET A CLUE... it's been going on in King County Elections for years and nobody has even been investigated, much less lost their job or freedom (except whistleblowers). Not saying SOS office has issues like KCE, but clearly there is NO reason for employees to believe that such actions would be caught or prosecuted.

OPEN AND TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS...right...huh...hhmmm....well...???

Posted by: dl on July 25, 2006 12:41 PM
33. I'm going to repeat this because at this point in the thread, it bears repeating:

Some here automatically assume that Eyeman is the one who is lying when the state (and/or gummit generally) has the proven track record in that regard. The state also has a proven track record of bumbling incompetence.

Posted by: G Jiggy on July 25, 2006 01:43 PM
34. There is a discrepancy - the question is who made the mistake in counting; Eyman or the SOS office ? There is the possibility that they could have misplaced the 30K + signatures - stuff like this has been done before, like the 10,000 ballots the KCR&E misplaced in the infamous '04 Governor election during the original count, so I am not ready to rule that out, due their unimpressive track record.

Eyman could have sat on the story until the verification process was done, then go public. I hope that I-917 appears on the ballot.

Posted by: KS on July 25, 2006 07:30 PM
35. So, to save 10 to 30 bucks annually you're going to kill 1.4B in highway, fright rail and state patrol revenue (in addition to the 1.4B in flex funds; half of which were enacted under Dino, Jim Horn under the nickel package)? And; you'll kill King, Pierce and Snoho's ability to self determine the possibility of taxing themselves? Tim's in the throes of a total meltdown. Final thought; why do the selfservatives beat the 'S' out of one of their few statewide electeds? Self-loathing, perhaps?

Posted by: Joe 6 Pack on July 25, 2006 08:46 PM
36. With self-loathing liberals like Joe 6-pack, its no wonder that the hammer and sickle are behind the ruling class of King County.
The politicians know no end to taxing us for light rail, thus there is a reason for a Tim Eyman to exist.

If it weren't for the big dig West, aka Sound Transit Light rail the roads would be maintained much better and light rail will do negligible benefit for cargo containers, but improved roads will benefit freight. Try reading the details and getting informed before you make clueless blanket statements that are invalid.

Posted by: KS on July 25, 2006 09:04 PM
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