Posted 2:25 pm, February 28
Mere days after announcing that a technological glitch may have led to the failure of the public campaign repeal, elections officials have released their new findings: Not only is the repeal still dead, but it actually lost signatures on the recount.
The computer problem stemmed from the state's brand new Centralized Voter Registration system, which was showing some signers as not valid when they were, in fact, valid. Once state and county officials caught the problem—after the city certified that the repeal effort failed—they initiated the recount.
That recount helped the First Things First Committee—the downtown business-sponsored group behind the repeal—pick up 49 new valid signatures. That still put them well behind the 26,691 required signatures (they turned in almost 41,000 total).
But they lost even more when officials took a closer look at the petition sheets. While the state and county were rechecking the signatures, they discovered that the city had actually dropped the ball on one major component of the petition-checking process: Elections officials forgot to check the petition circulators' dates at the bottom of their signature sheets.
If a circulator signs and dates the bottom of the sheet before they have other people sign it, or if the date is illegible, or if the date has been changed without the circulator signing their full name next to the correction, the entire sheet is thrown out. State and county officials found 186 such sheets and promptly tossed them.
Most of the petition circulation was handled by a company called Democracy Resources, which has received $170,000 (plus $32,000 still owed) from First Things First for their services. It is unclear if the invalid sheets were from employees of Democracy Resources or from volunteer circulators.
Diane Betcher from the city auditor's office admitted that missing those improper sheets was the city's fault and added that the procedure will be corrected for future petitions.
Both the city and county recertified the results this morning. All in all, the repeal effort died with 836 fewer signatures than it needed.