by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
By this time next week, Washingtonians will have received their ballots asking whether or not they want to keep the state's domestic partnership law, which grants the same rights and responsibilities for registered same-sex domestic partners and some seniors as married couples. If voters decide to approve Referendum 71, then more than 12,000 people in Washington State registered in domestic partnerships will keep the essential protections the law provides.
Washington Families Standing Together (WAFST), the LGBT advocacy group behind the Approve Referendum 71 Campaign, alongside hundreds of volunteers from around the state have registered voters, continue to phone bank and canvas potential voters, and have truly begun a grassroots outreach. With a short time frame before ballots begin to arrive in the mail, the stakes have never been higher - Referendum 71 must be approved.
ON REFERENDUM 71
This week, SurveyUSA released the results of Election Poll #15877, which concluded that voters are divided on Referendum 71.
According to the survey, 45% of likely voters say they are certain to vote to approve Referendum 71, 42% are certain to reject, and 13% are not certain.
Among men, the measure is rejected by a four-point margin; however, among women, 12 points approve it - a 16-point gender gap.
Seventy-two percent of Republicans say they will vote to reject, while 72% of Democrats say they will vote to approve. Independents reject the referendum by a 13-point margin.
In Metro Seattle, the measure is approved by 18 points; in Eastern Washington, it is rejected by 18 points. Western Washington voters outside of Metro Seattle are more divided, with an eight-point margin voting against Referendum 71.
SurveyUSA say they interviewed 1,050 Washington State adults on October 3-5, 2009. Of them, 907 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 548 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely voters in the November General Election.
"We are down to crunch time," WAFST Campaign Manager Josh Friedes told SGN. "The recent polls suggest that Referendum 71 is too close to call - the campaign and the community must do everything we can to approve Referendum 71."
Last weekend, volunteers at Standing Together to Approve Ref. 71, registered 176 voters and signed up 97 volunteers. Under the direction of Josh Castle, participants spoke with thousands of people at Westlake Center and the corner of Broadway and John about the urgency of filling out their ballots and voting to approve Referendum 71.
This weekend, Castle told SGN the volunteers will build on their success by taking the message directly to the community with an Approve Ref. 71 Bar Crawl on October 10. Going "out of the streets and into the bars," Castle said the Approve Ref. 71 Campaign will be taking over Seattle Gay bars to get the word out.
"On Saturday, we will be at every Gay bar in Seattle," Castle said. "On Sunday, we will target the most populated bars. That campaign is coming - it's gonna be a tornado of people."
He said the purpose of the community outreach project is to get people excited, engaged, and thinking about voting to approve Referendum 71, as well as to remind everyone their ballots will be arriving in the mail soon so they should "fill them out and mail them right away."
Beginning around 9 p.m., teams of volunteers will be in all of the main bars and clubs on Capitol Hill, Seattle's Gayborhood, to hand out Approve Referendum 71 signs, posters, flyers, and stickers. Castle said they also want to sign up as many volunteers as possible for phone banks, canvassing, sign waving, and other events.
In addition, the volunteers will also be collecting donations from bar patrons for the Approve Referendum 71 Campaign.
Although the event is activist at its core, Castle says volunteers can expect to have a good time. He said he's putting together "a group of outrageously wild, flamboyant, and hyper individuals who will run from bar to bar getting attention, waving huge Approve Ref. 71 signs, and stickering everyone."
"Please join us as we work towards equality and the protection of all families and have a fun, wild time throughout," Castle said.
APPROVE REF. 71 CAMPAIGN
Microsoft Corp. has donated $100,000 to WAFST, the largest donation the campaign has received to date, according to reports filed with the State Public Disclosure Commission on October 5.
According to reports, it brings WAFST campaign coffers to nearly $780,000 - an amount far greater than the $60,000 raised to date by the law's opponents, Protect Marriage Washington.
"Washington State campaign finance laws allow individuals and organizations to dump in money at the last minute," Friedes warns, "So, people should not take any comfort in current reports that show us having raised more money."
Beginning October 13 and lasting through the end of the election, donations from companies and individuals are limited to $5,000 maximum.
"We've had such a short time to raise money," Friedes told SGN. "Our supporters have been amazing, many of which are organizing impromptu house party fundraisers with their friends and family [and] making substantial contributions to the campaign."
Friedes said it is going to cost WAFST a lot of money in order to pay for expensive ad campaigns that will motivate voters.
"This is about voter turnout," he said. "It costs a lot of money to get voters to the polls that don't normally vote in an off year election."
In the end, he said, it is up to the small donors to fund this campaign.
Statewide, Friedes said, there is a lot of campaign activity. He said WAFST's volunteers have set up multiple phone banks and have fanned out field teams across the state to raise campaign awareness, with a major canvassing project in the works for Seattle and Tacoma.
"We continue to believe that the most effective way of getting people to mail in their ballots is through peer-to-peer contact," he told SGN. "Nearly half of all voters don't vote in an off-year election. Please, get out there and talk to your friends, family, and coworkers about the importance of approving Referendum 71."
For more information about the Approve Ref. 71 Campaign, WAFST, or to make a campaign donation or sign up to volunteer, visit the advocacy organization online at www.approvereferendum71.org.
MAIL-IN REGISTRATION OVER
FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS;
IN PERSON REGISTRATION
If you are not currently registered in the State of Washington, you can still register in person at your county elections office up to eight days before the election. The deadline for in-person registration for the upcoming November 3 General Election is Monday, October 26.
To register in person in King County, you must go to the King County Elections Office, 9010 East Marginal Way S. in Tukwila. The office is open Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (The office will be closed on Monday, October 11.) If you have general voter registration or elections questions, visit the them online at www.kingcounty.gov/elections or call (206) 296-VOTE.
To register in person in other counties in Washington State, contact the Secretary of State's office at (360) 902-4180 or visit www.secstate.wa.gov to find the location of your county's Elections Office.
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