Snohomish County, WA – Citizens have complained that some signature gatherers have been misrepresenting what they’re asking people to sign in the rush to collect enough signatures to put a new gun control mandate on the ballot in Washington.
Pictures posted to social media showed signs posted at numerous signature-gathering stations that represented the anti-gun measure as an initiative to eliminate a tax on groceries and make schools safer.
“Be aware of the petitions you sign,” Dan Composano warned on his Facebook page on Thursday.
“This lady was advertising i1639 as a no grocery tax initiative. i1639 is a gun initiative not grocery. i1634 is grocery tax initiative. From the time I went to get my phone to take a picture she had written ‘gun safety’ above it. Who knows how many people signed this without knowing exactly what they were signing,” Composano wrote.
He told KIRO he encountered the deceptive signs urging people to help put the gun control initiative on the ballot as he was doing his own shopping at the Walmart in Smokey Point.
"If people are in a hurry walking in to do their grocery shopping or walking out and somebody is there telling them to sign it, they sign it because someone is telling them it says no sales tax and if that's what they were looking for, then they might have signed the wrong one,” Composano said.
"At that point, I felt like they knew they were deceiving [people],” he said.
But the Washington State Secretary of State’s Office said there is no law against misrepresenting a ballot initiative while collecting signatures for it, KIRO reported.
Washington residents need to be wary of what they’re signing when they are approached by people collecting signatures for petitions. The ballot language and initiative number are located at the top of every petition, and it’s the signer’s responsibility to have read and understood what it meant prior to signing, according to KIRO.
Initiative 1639 would, among other things, raise the age for buying a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21, and require background checks and waiting periods, the Everett Herald reported.
It would also require a training course at the gun owner’s expense, hold gun owners liable if their unsecured firearm is used to harm themselves or others, and add a tax to every weapon over-and-above the purchase price and sales tax.
Backers of the initiative have turned to using paid signature gatherers in order to try to collect the 259,622 names required by July 6 to put the measure on the November ballot, according to the Everett Herald. They will actually need to gather closer to 350,000 signatures in order to make up for any that are invalid or duplicated.
The organization behind Initiative 1639 is the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and the Everett Herald reported that they claimed to have $2.5 million in contributions and pledges of support to use to push their agenda.
They’re using some of the money to pay up to $10 per signature to force the anti-gun measure onto the state’s ballot, the Everett Herald reported. And many of the signatures are being gathered by people from out-of-state.
“These people are getting $5 per signature and a $2 bonus if it passes. They are from Oklahoma and they’re being put up in a hotel with all expenses paid,” a Facebook user named “Johnny Rico” from Covington posted on Wednesday.
He posted several pictures to his page that showed petition-signing stations in his community that clearly misrepresented what the ballot initiatives represented.
“This is ok? Misleading at best and absolute lies at worst. 1639 has NOTHING to do with groceries or car tabs, but their signs sure make you think that, don’t they?” he wrote.
Then he went on to detail what Initiative 1639 does do, and pointed out that the proposed ballot measure “is 30 pages and there is NOTHING in there about keeping schools safe, car tabs, or grocery taxes.”
“This is insanity,” he concluded.