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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 7, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 27
What will happen if and when anti-Trans groups submit I-1552 petitions?
Section One
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What will happen if and when anti-Trans groups submit I-1552 petitions?

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

By the time you read this, we'll know whether I-1552 petitions have been submitted to the Secretary of State's office. Just Want Privacy - the inaptly named group that's backing the initiative to take restroom access away from Transgender people - has an appointment with the Secretary of State for 3pm on Friday, July 7.

If they don't show up, they're done. No initiative goes on the ballot in November and Transgender people can continue using gender-appropriate restroom facilities.

If they do show, however, things have only just gotten started. We may not know for a long time whether I-1552 will be on the November ballot.

First, the Secretary of State will decide if there are enough valid signatures - 259,622 - for the initiative to qualify for the ballot.

Of course, the state won't examine each and every signature.

'We'll take a random sample,' the Secretary of State's Communications Director, Erich Ebel, explained to SGN. 'If that passes muster, the petitions will be considered acceptable.

'In this case, though, there's an additional step because of the complaint.'

'The complaint' is a letter sent by Washington Won't Discriminate, the coalition formed to fight I-1552, to the Secretary of State's office charging the anti-Trans forces with violating state law by circulating improperly drawn-up petitions.

Specifically, Washington Won't Discriminate says, the petitions misrepresent the court-established ballot title and summary, and fail to include the full text of the measure on the back of the petition. These errors should be enough to disqualify the petitions, the group said in a June 23 letter to Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

Ebel says Wyman's office 'has been made aware of the potential for error,' but will not rule on the charges till they have the I-1552 petitions in hand.

'To be frank,' Ebel said, 'we haven't even seen the petitions yet. We know that part of the challenge refers to the language.

'Historically, we've decided on the side of the democratic process. In other words, if there's a minor typo, we'd tend to accept the petitions. In a case like this where there are multiple issues, we'd use an added amount of scrutiny.'

If Just Want Privacy fails to show for their appointment, the issues raised by Washington Won't Discriminate would be moot, Ebel explained.

'They do have an appointment, but because of their history we have to wait and see. They've told us before that they had the signatures and then at the eleventh hour, they backed out,' he added, referring to a similar anti-Trans petition drive that failed last year.

If I-1552 are, in fact, presented on schedule, Ebel said, then the Secretary of State will rule on the challenge. 'The decision is up to us, and if we have enough information we'll make the decision,' he said. 'We also have the option to refer the matter to the Attorney General's office.'

Once the Secretary of State's ruling is made - with or without input from the Attorney General - the unhappy side can 'choose to appeal to the courts,' Ebel continued. That could set the stage for a long and drawn-out legal battle. 'I want your readers to know that the Secretary of State's office does not have a dog in the fight,' Ebel concluded. 'What we really value is the process. We want citizens to have their voices heard through the initiative process.

'We have a standard set of procedures that we will follow to ensure that we're fair to everyone.'

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