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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Ref. 71: Back to the courts

Whether Referendum 71 goes on the November ballot may still be in doubt.

An opposition group, Washington Families Standing Together, did what a King County Superior Court judge essentially suggested it do Tuesday, filing for an injunction in Thurston County over questions about the validity of petitions.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the referendum for the ballot this week after announcing it had the required 124,000 or so signatures on petitions. But some of those petitions had not been signed in the required box by the people who collected them. The campaign manager for the petition drive signed some of them, others were blank.

Some of the signers also weren't registered to vote until they signed the petition.

Both of these are potential problems Judge Julie Spector said yesterday. But they weren't problems that she could rule on, because they were being raised before the referendum was certified. Once it was certified, Spector said, opponents would have to go to Thurston County Superior Court.

That's what they did, quoting extensively from Spector's discussion of the problems with the petitions. They challenge the validity of some 35,000 signatures; and the petition drive had only about 1,500 to spare.

Expect a quick hearing on this one. The clock is ticking toward the deadline for getting ballots printed around the state, and a statewide voters pamphlet.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.