Referendum 71 signer’s names withheld
September 11, 2009
Yesterday, US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled to withhold the names and addresses of people that signed Referendum 71, which puts domestic partnership rights on the ballot in Washington State. Judge Settle sided with Jane and John Doe, on the basis that "releasing petition signatures carries no public benefit, and that signing petitions, like the right to free speech, may be done anonymously." Secretary of State Sam Reed was the defendant in the lawsuit arguing that when signing a referendum, people are trying to change state law and that "changing state law should be open to public view." Reed's statement:
Our office has followed the state law that says referendum petitions are public records and thus should be made available upon request. We believe in open government and think the judge’s decision is a step away from open government. While we are disappointed in the judge’s decision, we respect it and will continue to withhold these petitions from public viewing unless there is a different ruling in the future. When people sign a referendum or initiative petition, they are trying to change state law. We believe that changing state law should be open to public view.
Full coverage in The Stranger.
May 21, 2013