Secretary of state: 'Significant' constitutional concerns raised over petition format for gun measure I-1639

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Friday that "significant" constitutional concerns have been raised about the petition format for proposed Initiative 1639, a gun control measure, but that she has "limited" authority in the matter.

In a news release, Wyman said her office had received signed petition sheets this week from three initiative sponsors who reported enough signatures to quality for the November general election ballot.  She said her office "in the coming weeks" will verify signatures submitted by sponsors of I-1631 titled "Clean Air, Clean Energy, I-1634 titled "Taxation of Groceries" and I-1639 titled "Gun Violence Prevention."

However, she said, "Significant concerns have been raised about whether the format of the I-1639 petition sheets complies fully with Washington's constitutional and statutory requirements."

She said, "RCW 29A.72.100 requires that a 'readable, full, true, and correct' copy of the proposed measure be printed on the reverse side of the petition."

But, she added, "The I-1639 petition sheets presented a text of the measure that lacked underlining and strikethroughs to explain its changes to existing law."

Wyman said the "Legislature has limited the authority of the Secretary of State regarding this topic."

"State law does not provide the Secretary of State authority to reject petition sheets based on the requirements in RCW 29A.72.100, which addresses what must be printed on the back of the petition," she said, hinting that she may have to OK the initiative for the ballot and that voters will be able to read about the proposed changes to the law in the voter pamphlet.

"State law does require that explanatory formatting appear in the voters’ pamphlet for any ballot measure."