Petitions for Reversing Transgender Bathroom Law Flawed, Group Claims

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OLYMPIA — A letter to Secretary of State Kim Wyman claims that signature gatherers for the initiative to roll back Washington state’s transgender bathroom rules are using flawed petitions.

The letter, dated Friday, comes from three organizations, including Washington Won’t Discriminate, a group formed to oppose Initiative 1552.

I-1552 would reverse a 2015 rule guaranteeing people access to areas like bathrooms and locker rooms according to the gender with which they live — as opposed to the gender with which they were born.

The organization pushing for the initiative, Just Want Privacy, has argued the rule would act as a shield for sexual predators to enter spaces like bathrooms and potentially harm women and children — though such action is already unlawful.

Just Want Privacy faces a July 7 deadline to turn in about 260,000 petition signatures to get I-1552 on the ballot.

The initiative comes as the U.S. Supreme Court declined this year to hear a case about a transgender Virginia high school student who had sued for the right to use a high school boys’ bathroom. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump nixed Obama-era guidelines that were intended to protect transgender students.

In light of those developments, some consider I-1552 to be the most consequential debate on the issue in the nation this year.

The letter to Wyman claims that some of I-1552’s petitions violate state law by containing typos and missing or changed words. In one of those examples, the letter claims that I-1552’s ballot title on the petitions is different from the one approved by the courts.

“Because the Washington Constitution requires the full text of a measure to appear on all petition sheets, we would expect the Secretary of State will not accept any petitions for I-1552 that fail to comply with this constitutional requirement,” reads the letter. “In addition, we would expect that the Secretary of State will not accept petitions that misrepresent the ballot title and/or the ballot measure summary of I-1552.”

“These requirements are important measures to prevent fraud and mistake in the gathering of signatures in support of initiatives and should be applied scrupulously,” the letter adds.

Representatives of the ACLU of Washington and Legal Voice also signed the letter.

In a statement, Wyman said she wouldn’t speculate about petition sheets that may — or may not — be turned in.

“As we do with every initiative, our elections office will review all signature sheets to determine if they comply with state law,” Wyman said in a prepared statement.

Emails seeking comment to Just Want Privacy, and to Joseph Backholm, chairman of the Just Want Privacy campaign, were not returned.

But Friday afternoon, a Just Want Privacy Facebook post referred to “political mudslinging” as it called for more help in getting signatures.

“The recent string of absurd accusations from anti-privacy proponents must mean we’re doing something right,” the post said. “The opposition is nervous, and they should be.”

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