Voters rejecting GMO measure, 'Protect the Initiative Act'

Washington voters were knocking down two initiatives — one that would set penalties for interfering with signature-gatherers and petition-signers, and another that would require advisory labels for genetically-engineered foods — in early vote tallies on Election Night.

Initiative 517, called the "Protect the Initiative Act," was falling to defeat with a 60-percent "no" vote.

I-517 was sponsored by Tim Eyman, who has made a career of putting initiatives before voters.

"Obviously, we (Yes on I-517 ) are disappointed," Mark Baerwaldt, co-chairman of Yes on I-517, said in an email to reporters after the initial vote count was released.

Eyman and fellow supporters Jack Fagan and Mike Fagan of Voters Want More Choices, said in an email that their work to strengthen the initiative process would continue.

"We have successfully learned to overcome the current system's challenges, consistently qualifying our initiatives for the ballot. We will work really hard to continue to do so," the trio said in a joint statement. "But unless reforms like those contained in Initiative 517 are enacted, only initiatives sponsored by the big guys will make it.  That's too bad. The initiative process should be available to everyone."

So far, a total of 946,817 votes had been counted on I-571 (569,569 against, and 377,248 for).

In Kitsap County, I-517 was also being rejected with a 60-percent vote against the proposal.

Washington voters were also rejecting I-522, the measure that would require labels on genetically-engineered foods, in the initial vote count on Election Night.

The statewide vote count just after 9 p.m. had 54 percent of voters opposed to I-522, and 45 percent in favor.

A total of 978,399 ballots had been counted so far.

In Kitsap County, the measure was being rejected, with 52 percent of voters opposed, and 47 percent of voters in favor of I-522.

Supporters were holding out hope the numbers would improve in the days ahead.

“Thank you to everyone who voted, volunteered, donated and supported this effort,” said Delana Jones, campaign manager for Yes on 522.

“Due to Washington state’s vote-by-mail system, we don’t have a final tally of the votes tonight. Please stay tuned for more information in the following days."

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