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Washam recall supporters turn in signatures

Post by News Tribune Staff on Aug. 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm with 8 Comments »
August 30, 2011 5:40 pm

Staff writer

Backers of a campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam shot their final bolt Tuesday. Now it’s all about the math.
Puyallup resident Robin Farris and her supporters turned in a final batch of recall petition signatures to the Pierce County Elections Center, just as the clock ticked down on an Aug. 30 submission deadline.

“I’m relieved,” Farris said. “I’m really almost kind of sad that it’s over, because we’ve met so may cool people. But I’m really more than anything just relieved, and I’m feeling confident, too.”

Washam did not respond to a voice-mail message left Tuesday with his assistant. He has faced the active recall effort since March 4, when the state Supreme Court ruled that the recall charges against him, if true, met standards of legal and factual sufficiency.

To qualify for the Nov. 8 general election ballot, recall backers must deliver at least 65,495 valid signatures, representing 25 percent of voters in the 2008 election that brought Washam to office.

Tuesday, Farris and her mother estimated that the campaign had gathered 84,503 signatures – about 19,000 more than the threshold for certification.
If correct, the tally would allow a maximum error rate of 22.5 percent.

The final number of signatures could be higher. Farris has tried to keep an exact count, but last-minute signatures were still arriving Tuesday afternoon. Recall backers and citizens showed up at the Pierce County elections center waving petition sheets and handing them in, amid cries of “just one more.”

Bigger numbers would fatten Farris’s error cushion.

By her own count, she has submitted roughly 7,000 petition pages to the elections center. Each petition has spaces for 20 signatures. Not all of the spaces were filled – the petition pages include some “onesies and twosies,” Farris said.

Tuesday morning, elections manager Mike Rooney said workers had just passed petition page 3,570, having checked (at that point) a total of more than 48,000 signatures.

Daily counts of signature checks posted by the county auditor’s office suggest that certification could be a close call.

By the end of the day Tuesday, elections workers had checked 53,640 signatures. Of that number, 40,789 were judged valid, while 12,851 had been challenged.

That pencils out to a challenge rate of roughly 24 percent, but there is a wrinkle: A challenged signature is not the same thing as a rejected signature.
Challenges fall into several categories. Non-registered voters, non-residents and duplicates are the most obvious. Others are fuzzier, such as illegibility, or a signature that doesn’t match the signature on file in the voter-registration database.

Front-line elections workers place challenged signatures into a separate category, to be double-checked later. Challenged signatures can still pass the validity test on further review.

“Many pages are currently in the process of a second review by our more experienced staff,” Rooney said in an e-mail Tuesday. “During this review, signatures are double checked and if warranted, challenge codes are removed. Some voters who were listed as ‘not registered’ are found by our more experienced staff and can then be counted as a valid petition signer.”

The recall charges accuse Washam of retaliating against his employees, wasting government resources, defying legal requirements to cooperate with internal investigations and violating his oath of office.

The charges cite three independent investigations of Washam’s conduct, which found he had committed the violations. A more recent federal investigation, finished after the recall petition was filed, reached similar conclusions regarding Washam’s conduct in office.

In response, Washam denied any wrongdoing.

As the final wave of signatures poured into the elections center, Farris saved one particular page, waiting for the final moment.
“No, this is the last one,” she told elections workers.

It was the last petition, and the first one – the one she’d been saving since March, when the signature drive began.

On the first signature space, she’d signed her own name.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. Goooooooooooo Robin….I hope I am back in WA when he gets the recall eviction of office….what a loser we voted in….makes me sick.

  2. puyallupmutt says:

    Janis, you didn’t vote him in. It was the quirk of Pierce County using a European style algorithm. Fortunately, we were quick to learn and tossed the method. The Euros are still using it for local elections. The fools !

    I’m still tring to figure out how Obama got elected. Oh yes, the other choice was “My Friend” McCain.

  3. Lets hope he out of office soon.

  4. Thanks for all the hard work Robin and crew! We show DW that the will of the people shall be heard!

  5. Interesting.

  6. RavensRoost says:

    Thank you Robin!

  7. serendipity says:

    Why does the election so often fall on my birthday? I mean, does God hate me? Don’t answer that. -Alison Whiteman

  8. I couldn’t wait for the recall petitions to come out so that I could add my name to the long list of ticked off, disgruntled voters. Now, I’ll have to be patient and wait for Ms. Anderson’s crew of professionals to verify and THEN the wait for November. My, ain’t politics FUN??? All this anticipation and then I get to participate in the most important thing that we do as Americans, throwing scoundrels and n’er-do-wells out of office. God, how I love being an American!!!

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