Councilman Carl DeMaio’s ballot initiative that would dramatically change city contracting and outsourcing rules failed to get enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot, the city clerk determined today.

Based on a random sampling of 3 percent of the 134,441 signatures on the petition, too few of the signatures were found to be valid registered voters in the city of San Diego, said Bonnie Stone, the city clerk’s deputy director of elections and information services.

When the County Registrar of Voters projected the number of valid signatures based on that random sampling, the 74,732 projected valid signatures fell short of the required 96,834 signatures to qualify the initiative for placement on the November ballot, Stone said.

The random sampling review of signatures for validity is a usual part of readying an initiative for the ballot, Stone said.

Any registered voter in the city of San Diego can challenge the city clerk’s decision within four days. That means DeMaio and other backers of the ordinance would have until Friday to appeal this decision.

At that point, the city clerk would verify each signature on the petition.

DeMaio didn’t immediately return a call for comment. He promised a statement in a Twitter message, which said, “Ballot Measure WILL Qualify….stay tuned for the details….”

The initiative was shaping up to be a blockbuster ballot battle between organized labor and the councilman’s allies in business and the Republican Party. It has the potential to ban organized labor-favored project labor agreements on construction projects, override the city’s living wage and force greater managed competition and outsourcing of city services.

Update: I just talked with Jennifer Jacobs, who’s running the campaign for this initiative.

“We planned for this,” Jacobs said. “We knew that there was that kind of possibility.”

Jacobs said the county Registrar of Voters found about 30 duplicate signatures in the random sampling, which triggered an extrapolation of how many duplicates exist in the entire pool. Jacobs said that extrapolation is exaggerated and an “archaic state law.”

She said DeMaio’s committee plans to appeal the decision and is confident the measure will pass with close to 110,000 valid signatures.

Jacobs said the committee is waiting for an exact figure but expects the charge will be about $20,000 to verify every signature belongs to a registered city of San Diego voter.

“We’ll pay the money to have the hand count done,” she said. “No way would [DeMaio] spend $20,000 he didn’t have the confidence for.”

— KELLY BENNETT

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