Since late March, one of National Organization for Marriage’s anti-gay campaigns, Preserve Marriage Washington, has been gathering signatures in hopes of forcing Referendum 74 onto the November ballot. If the measure qualifies for the ballot, voters will be asked to APPROVE or reject Washington’s civil marriage equality law.
According to the daily tally reported on NOM-PMW’s website, only 20,000 signatures trickled in during the first month (see top graph, right). That’s less than 1,000 signatures per day.
And then something peculiar happened.
Starting April 24th, the daily signature haul not only increased markedly to about 3,400 per day, but it has remained unchanged at that rate ever since. So unchanged, in fact, that a plot of daily signature totals since April 24th forms a perfect straight line (bottom graph, right). One would expect that the daily rate of signature return would ebb and flow if signatures were being collected by a volunteer force alone.
Unless NOM-PMW is posting fake daily numbers based on a linear projection of how many signatures they hope to have by the June 6th deadline, the most likely explanation for their unnaturally perfect rate of Referendum 74 signature returns is that the paid signature gathering firm they contracted with is faithfully returning an agreed-upon number of signatures per day. Contrary to what NOM-PMW would have us believe, Referendum 74 is not a grassroots effort.
Update: The graphs have been updated to include NOM-PMW’s reported signature tally for Tuesday, 5/22, which maintains the perfect linear trend.
Update 2: NOM-PMW is playing coy and admitting to some but not all of the paid R-74 signature gathering that is happening. From Seattle Times:
Word from ferry lines, grocery stores and other locations is that some signature gatherers are juggling clipboards, so to speak, handing potential signers two petitions at a time, one for Tim Eyman’s anti-tax measure, Initiative 1185, and another for Referendum 74 that aims to undo the recently passed gay marriage law.
“We have been told of it happening occasionally,” said Chris Plante, deputy campaign director for Preserve Marriage Washington. …”It’s not a formal agreement in any way shape or form. The only way we know about it is because some people have reported it.”
Plante said referendum proponents have 116,253 signatures so far and have hired paid signature gatherers in the last 10 days to ensure the long-term goal of 150,000 signatures, the amount necessary to cover the requirement and padding for signatures that are not valid.
Plante said sometimes signature gatherers collect signatures in the hopes of being paid, on spec. And that may be happening in this case.
“On spec”? In hopes of getting paid by whom? Why would they have that expectation? Shady.
* Washington Voters Show Little Interest in Repealing the Marriage Equality Act
* Preserve Marriage Washington Leaves no Doubt That Narrow Religious Views Drive Their Campaign, Not Sound Public Policy