Second right wing measure appears destined for November 2019 ballot: Referendum 88 likely to qualify

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

A right wing effort to overturn the Washington State Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act (Initiative 1000) by referendum appears to have succeeded in collecting the necessary signatures to force a statewide vote this autumn. Backers of Referendum 88 today submitted what they said were almost 177,000 signatures and plan to turn in another 20,000 more by Saturday at 5 PM, which is the deadline for submitting signatures.

To be certified, petitions for a referendum like R-88 must contain the signatures of at least 129,811 registered voters. As set forth in the Constitution, the minimum number of valid signatures required for a referendum is equivalent to four percent of the number of Washingtonians who participated in the last election for governor.

NPI’s Permanent Defense has been monitoring the R-88 signature drive for the past several weeks and expected today’s developments.

Many people who were approached to sign a Referendum 88 petition reported to NPI that the petitioner told them R-88 was a measure to help veterans, or to make affirmative action legal. The truth is just the opposite. Backers of R-88 want to overturn I-1000, a legislatively adopted initiative that prohibits discrimination against veterans and allows state agencies to help disadvantaged and historically underrepresented groups. It appears that a significant number of signatures for R-88 were obtained under false pretenses.

To keep I-1000 the law of the land, a majority of voters in Washington must vote Approved on Referendum 88 this autumn.

NPI is working with business, labor, and civic groups to build a strong coalition to Approve Referendum 88. Below is the press release we published today in response to the submission of signatures for this measure.


Today, in response to the submission of signatures by a group seeking to overturn Initiative 1000 (the legislatively-approved Washington State Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act) supporters of I-1000 announced the formation of the Approve 88 coalition, which will bring Washingtonians together in defense of I-1000 from now through General Election Day in November of 2019.

Enacted on April 28th, 2019 by the Washington State House and the Washington State Senate, I-1000 amended Initiative 200 (adopted in 1998) to expand the prohibition on extending preferential treatment to include discrimination on the basis of age, sexual orientation, disability, or military service (whether as an active duty servicemember or as an honorably discharged veteran) while explicitly permitting the state to remedy discrimination against — or underrepresentation of — disadvantaged groups as documented in a valid disparity study or proven in a court of law.

The measure would also create the Governor’s Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Under I-1000, state agencies and institutions of higher education are allowed to create programs and initiatives to ensure that everyone has access to opportunities to improve their lives in the State of Washington.

The Washington State Constitution permits legislatively adopted initiatives like I-1000 to be subjected to a referendum. Should Referendum 88 qualify, as expected, I-1000’s fate will be decided by voters this autumn in a statewide vote. Voters will have the option of keeping I-1000 in place by voting Approve, or repeal it by voting Reject.

Approve 88 will build a strong, robust, and diverse campaign to bring Washingtonians together around the values of inclusion, equity, and opportunity, led by representatives of Washington’s business community and labor movement, with grassroots community partners and distinguished elected officials like former Governor Gary Locke and State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos.

“I believe I-1000 celebrates our state’s diversity and is the right action to ensure fairness and opportunity for all our citizens,” said Locke, who served as Washington’s chief executive from January of 1997 until January 2005 and later as the United States of America’s Secretary of Commerce and Ambassador to China. Locke worked closely with fellow former Governors Dan Evans and Chris Gregoire to champion I-1000 as an initiative to the Legislature.

“Contrary to some beliefs, I-1000 does not repeal I-200’s prohibitions on quotas, set-asides, or preferences,” Locke explained.

“I-1000 merely makes it clear that recruitment and outreach are permissible and provides opportunities for veterans, women, and minorities for consideration by universities and colleges for admission and for contracting with governments.”

“I am proud to live, work, and represent a state where people care passionately about extending fair opportunities for educational advancement and employment to everyone,” said Santos. “While signatures gathered for the referendum may have been submitted today, the measure is not yet certified by the Secretary of State. If the measure qualifies, I am confident that our citizens will uphold our long-standing commitment to eliminate discrimination and to ensure fairness for all.”

Businesses, labor unions, civic organizations, and activists are all invited to join the effort to uphold I-1000 by Approving R-88, should it qualify.

“We can’t have shared success without shared opportunity,” said Washington State Labor Council President Larry Brown and Secretary-Treasurer April Sims.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, supported I-1000 and worked to ensure its successful passage during the legislative session.

“When certain people in our community are denied chances to succeed in our schools and workplaces because of who they are, those lost opportunities and wages hold us all back,” Brown and Sims said. “We need to say no to discrimination and demand better wages and jobs for everyone. We need to support I-1000 so that everyone in our state has better wages, jobs, and affordable, quality higher education.”

“Inclusion is one of Washington’s most important values,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve.

“By upholding I-1000, we can improve lives and better communities across our great state. Repealing I-1000 would take us backwards, and that’s not the Washington way. Let’s move forward this autumn by Approving Referendum 88.”

Voters will have until Tuesday, November 5th at 8 PM to return ballots for the 2019 general election.

Ballots will be mailed to military and overseas voters on September 21st, while ballots for voters in Washington State will be mailed the week of Friday, October 18th, when the eighteen day voting period begins. Citizens who are not on the rolls may register to vote in person for the general election at any time between now and the deadline to return ballots thanks to Washington’s new same day voter registration law.

The Approve 88 coalition invites all Washingtonians to join in the effort to protect Washington’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act by visiting approve88.org.

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