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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Wash. Official Can Decide How to Submit Initiatives

(CN) - Washington's secretary of state has the authority to determine whether an ambiguous initiative petition should be submitted to the people or to the Legislature, the Washington Supreme Court ruled.

When Linda Lee submitted a proposal for background checks for long-term care workers, she checked the box for the measure to be voted on by the people.

However, the internal language of the petition indicated that it should be submitted to the Legislature.

Sam Reed, the secretary of state in Washington, processed the application as one to be submitted to the people. Community Care Coalition of Washington urged Reed to process the measure for the Legislature, but he declined.

The coalition then brought an action directly before the Washington Supreme Court.

Justice Alexander ruled that the ambiguity of the measure gave Reed the discretion to decide what to do with it.

"Lee clearly intended an initiative to the people when she checked the corresponding box on the petition application form," Alexander wrote. "The secretary acknowledged that intent in processing and numbering the initiative as one to the people."

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