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Registrar Reverses Self on Slow-Growth Count

February 12, 1988|JEFFREY A. PERLMAN | Times Urban Affairs Writer

Surprising slow-growth initiative supporters, Registrar Don Tanney reversed himself Thursday and said he will verify the petition signatures submitted this week on behalf of the measure by sampling 5% of them rather than checking every signature.

He also said employees in his office have counted even more signatures than initiative proponents thought they had turned in.

Tanney said he expects to have a decision on whether the measure will qualify for the countywide June ballot by 6 p.m. Wednesday. He had said earlier that checking every signature would require about 17 working days.

The registrar said his staff had numbered the signatures and came up with 96,401--766 more than the 95,635 initiative supporters had counted when they brought 96 stacks of petitions to Tanney's office Tuesday afternoon.

Tanney said he changed his mind about checking each signature because of the large number submitted.

Lower Number Expected

"I was expecting a much lower number," Tanney said. "With a lower number, I would need to use a complete check to be sure of the results. But with this many signatures, I can use a sample and, if a large error rate shows up, we can always go back to a 100% verification procedure."

While not predicting the outcome, Tanney said it's "reasonable" to assume that the minimum number of signatures required to qualify the initiative will be found.

About 66,000 signatures of voters registered in Orange County are needed to place the controversial measure on the ballot.

"I'm very pleased," key initiative backer Tom Rogers said of Tanney's decision to use a 5% sample. "About the only way we'll have a problem is if the sample shows there are too many duplications (the same person having signed more than once), and I strongly doubt that this will happen."

The initiative would condition future growth on the ability of local roads and public services to withstand greater loads.

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