Signature of registered voter is a coveted commodity

The competitive nature of the initiative and referendum season now peaking in Washington.

OLYMPIA — The signature of a registered voter will be one of the most sought-after political commodities in Washington in the next few weeks.

Those seeking to gather thousands of them for initiatives are going to pay a handsome sum to acquire them.

And, in one instance, even send someone to Europe for a four-country “trip of a lifetime.”

A chance to win such an excursion is an incentive reportedly offered to those getting people to sign petitions for a referendum on Seattle’s new job tax. At least 17,632 signatures of valid Seattle voters must be turned in by June 17 to get it on the November ballot.

A communique reputedly sent around in recent days declares one can earn $6 per referendum signature. And a person who collects at least 75 signatures a day — and turns them in each day — will receive a ticket in the drawing for the European trip.

Too good to be true? Or legal? Maybe. Even if it does cross the line, it is revealing of the demanding and competitive nature of the initiative and referendum season now peaking in Washington.

As of Wednesday, petitions for four statewide initiatives were getting circulated.

Sponsors of three proposals —the ones to impose a new fee on carbon emissions, to ban local taxes on soda and to make collective bargaining negotiations public — have until July 6 to turn in roughly 260,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify. The Secretary of State’s Office recommends filing at least 350,000 signatures to account for invalid ones.

The fourth — a $30 car tab measure pushed by Tim Eyman of Mukilteo — doesn’t face an immediate deadline as it is aiming for the 2019 ballot.

For the campaigns behind the carbon tax and the ban on soda taxes, money is not much of a concern. Each has in excess of $1.5 million available, which puts them in a position to pay good money per signature in the coming weeks.

On Thursday, the situation gets a little more intense.

That’s when signature-gathering for another initiative is expected to begin. This one would impose new restrictions on firearm purchases and storage, including raising the legal age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21.

Backers will have just 30 days to get 350,000 voters to sign their petitions, or 11,666 per day.

“Together, we will make history by completing the shortest signature-gathering drive in Washington State history AND passing one of the most comprehensive statewide gun safety measures in the country,” sponsors of the initiative wrote in a June 4 email to supporters.

With $2.5 million contributed or pledged to the campaign, sponsors will be able to pay top dollar for each coveted signature.

You can only imagine how many professional signature-gatherers around the country are making plans to spend the next month in Washington — if they aren’t already here.

Depending on how many initiative petitions they carry at one time, they could make $10 to $20 for each signature of a registered voter they obtain in the coming weeks.

At that haul, they won’t need to win a European vacation because they can afford it on their own.

________

This story was first published in the Everett Herald. Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos

More in Opinion

Dozen advisory measures on the ballot will tax voters’ attention

Voters will get a chance this fall to offer their opinions on every one.

State’s new voting system passes key test

Whew. The primary (on Aug. 6) marked the electoral debut of VoteWa,… Continue reading

Correcting our ways | Letter

Correcting our ways I am angered, moved and remain hopeful by the… Continue reading

Publisher’s decision to limit eBook access is bad news for library patrons

What’s at stake is the issue of digital equity and access.

Trump’s message unseemly but not racist | Letter

Many of Ms. Pak’s columns revolve around a recurring theme: “Let’s talk… Continue reading

A heavy burden | Letter

There are more than 110,000 residents of our state living with Alzheimer’s… Continue reading

Vote ‘yes’ on Prop. 1 | Letters

Vote ‘yes’ to Prop. 1 Please vote to approve the revised Prop.… Continue reading

We’re better than this | Windows and Mirrors

The effects Trump’s words can have on us.

Reporter publishes new letters policy

Letters policy is meant to provide direction and transparency.

A climate crisis | Letter

A climate crisis Aaron Kunkler’s article on feedback loops of CO2 and… Continue reading

KCLS forges partnerships for broader public benefit

Partnerships make it possible for KCLS to serve a broader range of people, while stretching tax dollars.

The importance of being counted | Windows and Mirrors

The 2020 Census is coming and that can greatly affect everything from government representation and federal funding.