Supreme Court decision places Initiative 1639 on November ballot

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon’s ruling on Initiative 1639 means the initiative will go before voters this November.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman had certified I-1639 to appear on the ballots because it met the qualifications the Legislature has empowered the Secretary to enforce, including having the number of submitted signatures and containing certain language on each petition. However, Secretary Wyman also expressed significant concerns over the formatting of the petitions.

Judge Dixon’s ruling had agreed with those concerns. He faulted the formatting as well, saying that it meant the petition sheets failed to include the “readable, full, true, and correct copy of the proposed measure” required under RCW 29A.72.100.

Friday, the Supreme Court found that the Secretary “has no mandatory duty to not certify an initiative petition based on the readability, correctness, or formatting of the proposed measure printed on the back of the petitions.”

Secretary Wyman thanked the Court for issuing a quick order in the case.

“This clears the way for our preparations to put I-1639 before voters in time for ballots to be printed,” Secretary Wyman said. “My priority is protecting Washington citizens’ right to make informed use of our state constitution’s initiative process. Our voters deserve full and clear information about what they’re asked to sign onto.”

Washington’s Office of Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees, and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime. 

Initiative Measure No. 1639, filed May 2, 2018 AN ACT Relating to increasing public safety by implementing firearm safety measures, including requiring enhanced background checks, waiting periods, and increased age requirements for semiautomatic assault rifles and secure gun storage for all firearms; amending RCW 9.41.090, 9.41.092, 9.41.094, 9.41.097, 9.41.0975, 9.41.110, 9.41.113, 9.41.124, 9.41.240, 9.41.129, and 9.41.010; adding new sections to chapter 9.41 RCW; creating new sections; prescribing penalties; and providing effective dates. BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:

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