Anti-transgender initiative campaign still struggling to gather signatures as deadline nears

Ballot WatchdoggingThreat Analysis

A theoconservative effort to qualify an initiative that would roll back transgender rights in Washington appears to be going nowhere, although its backers have yet to concede defeat.

With less than a month to go until this year’s signature gathering deadline arrives, proponents of I-1552 have issued a fresh plea for donations and volunteers in which they tacitly acknowledge that they’re not getting the support they had hoped for. I-1552 is a do-over of I-1515, which failed to make last year’s ballot.

What comes to your mind when you hear the number “23?” The greatest basketball player who ever lived? The number of chromosomes each human receives from each parent? The beloved Psalm in the Bible?

Here at JWP headquarters, 23 means one thing and one thing only – the number of days remaining to qualify I-1552 for the November ballot. That’s not much time at all.

Are we going to make it? Please take a few moments to watch Joseph’s video update to find out.┬áIf you do, you’ll learn that we have over 92,000 signatures in hand already and that we received over 170,000 signatures during the final two weeks of last year’s campaign. This is good news.

Good news, perhaps, for the opposition, but not for the I-1552 campaign. To qualify for the ballot, they must submit around 330,000 signatures. That’s the minimum they need. If they’ve truthfully reported what they have in hand, then they’re in bad shape. They only have a third of what they need with only a few weeks to go… and the clock is ticking.

I-1552 backers are counting on there being a sudden surge of activity at the end of their drive to propel them to the ballot.

But even if they get their wish, it’s unlikely to be enough, because they’re entering into the home stretch of the signature gathering season in such a weak position.

On May 19th, the campaign reported to its supporters that it had 50,000 signatures in hand. I-1552 promoters Joseph Backholm and Kaeley Triller Haver sent repeated appeals urging their followers to enlist church congregations to participate in a “Signature Sunday” event on June 4th to bolster the campaign’s position.

It appears the “Signature Sunday” event didn’t yield very many signatures.

By the campaign’s admission, around 42,000 signatures have been added to the tally since the 19th. That’s an average of around 2,211 signatures a day. If the campaign continued to gather signatures at the same pace, it would wind up with around 50,853 more signatures than it has now — which is less than half of what is needed.

Even if the campaign was able to collect 170,000 signatures during the final two weeks of this year’s drive — something it claimed it did last year — that still wouldn’t be enough to qualify. 92,000 + 170,000 = 262,000, and the campaign needs to submit at least 330,000 or it’s at risk of failing a signature check.

The I-1552 campaign has expended some funds to hire signature gatherers, but has said it is counting on volunteers to deliver most of what’s needed (200,000 of 330,000 signatures). It doesn’t appear that either the paid drive or the unpaid drive are going very well. And that’s great news for Washington. Hate has no place on our ballot. Our transgender population is not a public safety threat. In fact, transgender individuals are more likely to be the victims of harassment or assault than the typical person.

The demise of I-1552 would not guarantee that transgender rights are safe from being overturned. But it’s hard to see a third effort succeeding next year when two previous efforts failed. If anything, grassroots support for the cause may wane further due to the collapse of I-1515 and I-1552 and the shifting political landscape.

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