(Initiative Process and Time Limits)
Shall the Seattle City Charter be amended to eliminate a provision that specifies that the time for procuring signatures on initiative petitions shall in no event exceed two hundred (200) days and to amend outdated references to the City Comptroller's role in the initiative process, and shall Article IV, Section 1, Paragraph B of said charter be amended accordingly?
The Charter as it Exists Now
Subdivision B of Section 1 of Article 4 of the Charter governs the filing, contents and processing of initiative petitions; included are provisions concerning the verification of signatures and the deadline for filing petitions.
Subdivision B allows the placement of an initiative on the ballot if the petitioners gather the signatures of registered voters in a number "equal to not less than ten (10) percent of the total number of votes cast for the office of Mayor at the last preceding municipal election."
Among other things, Subdivision B requires that an initiative petition be filed with the City Comptroller prior to its circulation for signatures. The petition is to be assigned a serial number, dated, and approved or rejected as to form by the Comptroller, who then is to notify the petitioners.
Signed petitions are to be filed with the Comptroller within 180 days after the Comptroller has approved them as to form. Upon filing of the signed petitions, the Comptroller is to, among other things, verify that a sufficient number of signatures has been gathered.
If the Comptroller finds that a petition which upon filing had a sufficient number of signatures actually contains an insufficient number of verified signatures, then the Comptroller "…shall notify the principal petitioners, and an additional twenty (20) days shall be allowed them in which to complete such petition to the required percentage; provided, however, that in no event shall the time for procuring signatures exceed two hundred (200) days."
The clause in Subdivision B that limits to 200 days the overall time for procuring initiative signatures may, under certain circumstances, conflict with the provision allowing 20 additional days for procuring signatures. Under such circumstances, application of the 200-day limit may allow fewer days for signature gathering than otherwise would be permitted.
In 1991 Seattle voters approved a City Charter amendment which, among other things, abolished the elective office of City Comptroller. In addition, the actual verification of initiative signatures is performed by the King County Department of Records and Elections under current election procedures and laws.
The Effect of the Proposition if Adopted
Subdivision B of Section 1 would be amended as follows:
(1) To amend outdated references to the City Comptroller in the initiative process, references to the Comptroller would be changed to the City Clerk.
(2) To conform to state law, wording that currently requires the City Comptroller to "verify" the sufficiency of initiative signatures would be deleted. Language would be substituted requiring the City Clerk to "cause the verification" of such signatures.
(3) To always allow an extra 20 days of signature gathering if the verification process reveals that insufficient valid signatures were originally submitted, the clause that limits to 200 days the overall time for gathering initiative signatures would be deleted.