City Clerk Rejects Waste Water Petition

It’s official. The city clerk’s office has found Regina Water Watch’s petition to be insufficient. But based on their numbers, the community effort to force a referendum on the waste water public-private partnership only fell slightly short of the threshold.

RWW submitted a list of 24,361 signatures. The city clerk claims that based on their verification process they reckon that between 16,941 and 18,145 are valid. That means the clerk rejected between 26 and 30 per cent of the signatures on the petition.

To be successful, the petition needed to contain 19,310 valid signatures. So that means the petition came up short between 2,369 and 1,165 of the goal. Or, in other words, it was between 12.26 and 6.03 per cent off the mark.

In our last issue, we covered the decision by the clerk’s office to exclude signatures where the date on that line didn’t include the year. Alarmingly, this decision is the thing that invalidated the petition. According to the clerk’s report, 3,416 signatures were invalidated because the date was written incorrectly and 2,834 of those had a date where the year was not included.

Had those names been left in, even using the low end of the clerk’s statistical estimate of 16,941, the petition would have been declared valid with 19,775 signatures.

A special council meeting has been called for Monday at 5:30 to consider the petition. And we’ll have more on this in a bit. Including a ranty blog post from Whitworth which he’s working on right now. I just wanted to make sure we had the basic facts up on the blog right away.

After the jump, I’ll post the number breakdown the clerk’s office provided.

* * * * *

Signatures on petition provided to city clerk’s office: 24,361

Printed surname and given names (or initial) incomplete or incorrect: 435
Street addresses incomplete or incorrect: 434
Signature is not witnessed (or witnessed own signature): 4
Date is not stated or incorrect (of this, 2,834 had no year): 3,416

The city clerk’s office also conducted a phone survey of a random group of 1,008 petition signers. The results of that survey…

Verified as valid: 881
Street address incomplete or incorrect: 46
Person didn’t sign petition: 25
Person signed the petition more than once: 25
Person was not a Canadian citizen: 19
Person was not at least 18 years of age: 3
Person did not reside at the address listed on petition: 16
Person was not a resident of Regina for 3 consecutive months prior to signing: 1
Person was not a resident of Sask for 6 consecutive months prior to signing: 1
Person refused to verify information: 6

And here are the report’s comments on the phone survey results…

The above represents a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 3%. That means that the proportion of the verified answers is 87.4%, so there is a 95% confidence that the true proportion of verified (valid) signatures lies between 84.4% (16,941) and 90.4% (18,145).

In his professional opinion, given the 20.6% non-response rate, the statistician believes the above calculations to be extremely generous, and offers that the true proportion of verified answers could well be as low as 69%. So again, with a 95% confidence level and 3% margin of error, the true proportion of verified (valid) signatures may well lay between 66% (13,248) and 72% (14,452).

In accordance with section 109(2), the City Clerk’s determination is final.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

6 thoughts on “City Clerk Rejects Waste Water Petition”

  1. Math under Six in the Morning to show accepting the no-year dates results in unambiguous success for the petition.

  2. To determine whether the Snidpickery is justified, let us discuss the purpose of each element of the petition. The primary purpose of the name is to identify the particular citizen signing a petition. The primary purpose of the address is to determine the eligibility of the particular person to support the petition; its secondary purpose is to aid in the identification of the citizen. The primary purpose of the date is to ensure it took place within the required 90-day time period. The signature and witness are to affirm the correctness of the other information.

    So, does leaving the year off the date cause it to fail in its primary purpose? Obviously not: it would be literally impossible to sign the petition as written prior to the year 2013. Does an incomplete name or address cause them to fail in their primary purpose? Again, the answer in no. The redundancy between name and address information allows disambiguation for either primary purpose given incomplete information. It’s important to remember that incompleteness in name or address information was the overwhelming cause for rejection after the whole date bullshit.

  3. the entity agent w, which in barb's mind may or may not think or exist separately from whitworth says:

    I’ve also found those long cryptic links do go stale after awhile. I expect they contain something like a session-ID.

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