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R-71 Legal Challenge Rejected

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A King County judge on Wednesday rejected a lawsuit seeking to block Referendum 71 from appearing on the Washington ballot in November, citing technical jurisdiction grounds. However, the judge found that concerns raised by the challenge to referendum signatures were valid.

Judge Julie Spector said that state law required the challenge to be filed in Thurston County, where the capital, Olympia, is located. Supporters of expanded domestic-partnership rights for same-sex couples, who want to keep Referendum 71 off the ballot, said they would file a lawsuit in Thurston County on Thursday.

Although Judge Spector rejected the challenge, she recognized the concerns raised about the signatures, such as whether some signers were registered voters, according to the Associated Press. The question remains whether the secretary of state, who certified Referendum 71 for the ballot on Wednesday, has discretion to accept invalid signatures.

"Spector noted several problems with the signature petitions," reported the AP. "However, she said it's unclear whether state law prevents the secretary of state from accepting signature petitions that don't meet legal requirements."

Referendum 71 would allow Washington voters to approve or reject the expanded domestic-partnership law for same-sex couples that passed the legislature and was signed by the governor in the spring.

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