June 10th, 2017
Right wing petitioners using county measure that would ban safe injection sites as lead-in for statewide anti-transgender initiative
Ballot WatchdoggingThreat Analysis
What does a county-level initiative that would ban safe injection sites have to do with a statewide initiative that would roll back transgender rights? Answer: It serves as a nice lead-in for out-of-state petitioners who have been given the sheets for both.
Yesterday, NPI leadership documented right wing petitioners in action, photographing a crew camped out in front of a QFC in Renton.
Petitioners were seen approaching voters to sign I-27 (the county-level measure) first– and then going for a second score by flipping their boards to present petitions for I-1552, the statewide initiative that would wrongly prohibit transgender individuals from using washrooms designated for the gender they identify as.
Because petitioners in Washington State are paid by the signature, they have a strong incentive to lead with whatever they’ve got that people are most receptive to. Banning safe injection sites (which don’t yet exist) is proving to be an easier sell in King County than forcing a public vote on the rights of transgender individuals.
Management of the Kroger-owned QFC where the petitioners were operating wasn’t pleased about the signature gathering activity taking place at their store entrance, and placed a freestanding sign right outside the doors informing patrons the petitioners were operating without the company’s blessing.
The sign read:
To Our Customers:
Petitioners are on QFC property without our permission.
QFC is not associated with this petitioning activity.
We apologize for any inconvenience this activity may cause.
The campaign to qualify I-27 to the King County ballot in November is being spearheaded by Bothell City Councilmember Joshua Freed, who says he’s quite pleased with signature gathering efforts so far.
“We’ve had over 600 volunteers reach out to us and collect signatures,” Freed told KIRO Radio in an interview on June 6th. “Today, we’re at 20,953 signatures. Our required goal is 47,443 by July 31. So, we are very well on our way.”
Freed failed to mention that his group is benefiting from the services of out-of-state signature gatherers, who have been deployed around King County with I-27 petitions. (One of the petitioners in front of the Renton QFC admitted to NPI leadership when asked that he isn’t a King County resident and is here to make a few quick bucks petitioning.)
The I-1552 campaign started back in the winter, but has struggled to catch fire. Backers are running out of time. Their submission deadline is early in July, as opposed to the end of the month, and their petitions need to contain at least 330,000 signatures or the measure will be at risk of failing a signature check. The campaign announced yesterday it had surpassed 100,000 signatures, but that’s less than a third of what they need.
The existence of the I-27 campaign is rather convenient for the struggling I-1552 campaign, because petitioners for hire haven’t got much of an incentive to come to King County just to carry I-1552 sheets. (A high number of voters in King County support LGBT rights, making refusals or lack of interest a barrier to getting signatures for I-1552.)
But by piggybacking on the I-27 effort, the I-1552 campaign can partly work around this problem. Since petitioners from out of state are already in King County to work I-27, the I-1552 campaign is making sure their paper is made available to those petitioners.
Considering how poorly their drive has gone so far, however, it could be futile. I-27 may well qualify for the November ballot in King County, but I-1552 is floundering, and won’t make the statewide ballot short of a last ditch signature gathering bonanza.