Snohomish County voters say petitioners are using misleading signs to get signatures

Some people in Snohomish County say the signature gatherers you often see outside grocery stories are being deceptive.

"Today we are trying to give folks the chance to choose whether they want their groceries taxed or not,” Lorin Bishop told a potential voter outside the Haggen in Marysville.

But that is just one of three petitions for which he is gathering signatures on Friday.

"Since we are doing one, we might as well do the other ones and make people aware of other things going on as well," Bishop explained.

He says he makes sure to tell people which one they're signing, but some other gatherers, people in Snohomish County say, are not being as transparent.

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Dan Composano took a picture of the sign displayed by signature gatherers at sa Smokey Point Walmart Thursday.

"It posted ‘no sales tax on groceries’ and right above it, it had the ‘I-1639,’” he told us.

But "no sales tax on groceries" is I-1634; I-1639 would prohibit the sale of all guns to anyone under 21.

"I went back to my car to get my phone and by the time I got back over there, one of the guys had wrote 'gun safety' [above I-1639]” with marker and then written I-1634 next to the ‘no sales tax on groceries’ sign.

Both petitions were available at the table;. I-1639 was the one on top on the clipboard.

"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,” explained Composano.

His picture generated hundreds of comments on social media and more pictures of similar displays around western Washington.

He's angry and says he would have signed I-1634 but not I-1639, but now he's not signing either.

"At that point, I felt like they knew they were deceiving [people],” said Composano.

The Washington State Secretary of State's Office says this is not illegal.
Because the ballot language and initiative number are on the top of each petition, it is up to you, the voter, to read and understand what you're signing before you sign it.