Petition signatures and open records

One big open records story this year is whether signatures on petitions should be public or private. In the State of Washington, the group Who Signed? plans to publish on its website the names of those who signed Referendum 71.

R-71 is an attempt to overturn, through the veto referendum process, the “all-but-marriage” law passed earlier this year. A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order to the people running the R-71 campaign, with a full hearing in September on the question of signature privacy.

I’m on Tim Eyman’s email list — same state, different issue — from which I understand that an activist with the National Education Association has requested information about who signed I-1033, a tax-limitation proposal.

Eyman is concerned that the National Education Association will cross-index the list of those who signed his petition against their lists of public school teachers in the state. He writes:

Will the very powerful Charles Hasse and the WEA/NEA/AFT use I-1033’s petition signers to identify those teachers and other public employees who need to be coerced into opposing I-1033? Do the teachers and other public employees who signed I-1033’s petitions need help gettin’ their minds right?

And that’s only about 10% as hot as the rhetoric around the domestic partnership petition’s signatures.

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