It’s been apparent from the outset that Referendum 74 will qualify for the November ballot. After all, very few referendum campaigns don’t collect the required 120,577 voter signatures since it is such a low percentage of the total registered voters in the state. Once on the ballot, R-74 will ask voters to approve or reject Washington’s recently-passed civil marriage equality law.
So the question isn’t whether the measure will qualify, but how its support stacks up to other ballot measures. Not very well, it would seem. This despite having hired paid signature gatherers up to four weeks ago and getting an assist from shady “on spec” collectors.
In recent years, initiative campaigns on a wide range of subjects including death with dignity, taxes, transportation and liquor sales have routinely filed more than 300,000 signatures, with only 30 days more to collect signatures than referenda campaigns have. Over 408,000 signatures were filed in 2010 to put a “candy and bottled water” tax repeal initiative on the ballot.
National Organization for Marriage’s big cheese himself set the goal of turning in 200,000 Referendum 74 signatures on May 6th, one month before the deadline.
“I want the headline above the fold that says ‘R-74 gets 200,000 signatures a month early!’ I want to shut up our opponents. …Because our opponents – this is a battle, and our opponents need to be demoralized,” Chris Plante told a group of volunteers in March. Plante is a Rhode Island-based NOM employee sent to Washington to act as Preserve Marriage Washington’s deputy campaign director.
“I’ve been saying, on May 6th I’d love to put out a press release saying, the human part of me says ‘nah-nah-na-na-nah’, we got the signatures,” Plante told volunteers at a similar event in April. “Something to the effect of ‘Washington will not stand for messing with marriage’.”
It’s now weeks later and not only has NOM-PMW failed to meet their goal of filing 200,000 signatures on May 6th, but it appears unlikely that they will even have 200,000 signatures to file by the June 6th deadline. If NOM-PMW had any kind of meaningful support in the state of Washington, they should have had no problem accomplishing this fall-back goal.
Once again, the national anti-gay groups will learn that Washington doesn’t have much interest in their attempts to overturn our laws.