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Originally published Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM



Minor error shouldn't forestall I-1029 vote

Secretary of State Sam Reed was right to accept Initiative 1029, which would require most long-term-care workers to be tested and certified by the state.

An error in the wording on petitions has given Secretary of State Sam Reed the right to reject Initiative 1029. On the advice of Attorney General Rob McKenna, Reed has not done it, arguing that the error was not important enough to nullify 300,000 signatures. He is right.

I-1029 would require most long-term-care workers to be tested and certified by the state. The initiative is sponsored by Local 775 of the Service Employees International Union and is opposed by the Community Care Coalition of Washington, which represents home-care employers and others.

This page will editorialize later on the merits of the initiative. At issue now is only whether the error should keep it off the ballot.

The error has to do with whether I-1029 is an initiative to the people or the Legislature. I-1029 was written, filed, numbered and processed by the state as an initiative to the people, to go straight onto the November ballot.

The SEIU promoted it to the public that way, and filed the signatures by the deadline for initiatives to the people. But the small type on the petitions said the measure would be "transmitted to the Legislature."

Opponents now say the petitions were misleading. But it is doubtful that one in a thousand persons noticed the reference to the Legislature and signed because of that.

Those claiming trickery are, of course, the measure's opponents. They want it off the ballot — not to protect the public's interest, but their own.

In each political cycle, it seems, someone argues that thousands of signatures should be thrown in the wastebasket for some reason or other. Often the argument is weak, as it is here.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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