Repeal Group Exceeds 45,000 Signatures For Referendum

(Vote Yes Repeal the Giveaway/Facebook)
(Vote Yes Repeal the Giveaway/Facebook)

Tomorrow is the deadline for a group trying to repeal a tax cut on oil companies.

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Yes Repeal the Giveaway need* at least 30,000 verified signatures to get a referendum on the August primary ballot. So far, over 45,000 people have signed the petition booklets.

“It’s exceeded my expectations.”

That’s Pat Lavin. He’s helping organize the referendum effort, and says they’re still collecting signatures in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and a few other communities. The group’s goal is to turn over a law that’s projected to lower taxes on oil companies by at least $3 billion over the next five years. The tax cut has long been a priority of Gov. Sean Parnell as a way of spurring oil production in the state, but critics say there’s no guarantee that will happen.

Lavin says having so many signatures should give the group a good buffer in case some are disqualified.

Gail Fenumiai directs the state Division of Elections, and she says usually a few thousand ballot proposition signatures are thrown out.

“When you look at this you’ll probably find an average, you know, maybe around 10 percent of the total signatures submitted don’t qualify.”

Even though the referendum group has exceeded their goal by more than 50 percent, they probably won’t beat the known record for most signatures collected. In 2005, an initiative that would have banned aerial wolf hunting got more than 55,000 signatures, and ultimately got voted down.

But Lavin notes that initiatives have a whole year to collect signatures, while referenda only get three months. And he says those months have certainly been exhausting.

“I think I’m going to sleep for like a week, and then think about something else when I wake up,” says Lavin.

Lavin adds that so far, the group hasn’t settled on a strategy for how they’re going to campaign once they get all of their signatures in. That’s scheduled to happen at 3pm tomorrow at the Division of Elections’ Ship Creek Avenue office in Anchorage.