Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Republican Kim Wyman’s call for “citizenship checks” of voters draws swift condemnation

Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman made it known this morning that, if reelected, she will be asking the Legislature to enact legislation to at least partially implement the privacy-infringing federal “REAL ID” Act in order to “check for citizenship of people who want to register and vote in Washington”.

“Our package is reasonable; it’s long overdue,” Wyman said in a news release. “Our laws are not working the way they need them to. We need to construct laws and processes to verify voter eligibility on the front end of the voter registration application. We are here today to propose some sensible and concrete solutions to correct this problem. The time for action is now.”

“People are understandably frustrated about this situation and we are frustrated as well. It’s time for action in the January session,” she added.

Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski promptly blasted Wyman’s announcement.

“Secretary of State Kim Wyman is showing her true partisan Republican colors in an effort to score political points on voting access issues,” Podlodowski said in response to Wyman’s announcement. “Like her party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, she is intentionally inflaming anti-immigrant sentiments by suggesting non-citizens are trying to vote in Washington State.”

“As a daughter of two immigrants who became naturalized citizens, I’m appalled by how low Kim Wyman is willing to stoop to try and paint immigrants in Washington State as perpetuators of voter fraud, a continuing Republican narrative in the 2016 election that is simply not true. Shame on her.”

OneAmerica’s Rich Stolz also strongly denounced Wyman’s posturing.

“We are appalled at Secretary Wyman’s Trump-style exploitation of the Burlington tragedy to win political points,” Stolz said in a statement sent to NPI. “With the Burlington investigation still underway, and even after news reports had confirmed that Arcan Cetin was in fact a citizen, Secretary Wyman this morning announced policy proposals taken out of the right-wing voter suppression playbook.”

“As Secretary Wyman acknowledged herself, the penalties for non-citizen voting are severe — up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine and likely deportation.”

“Instead of proposing policies that weaken our Democracy by placing unnecessary barriers between citizens and their right to vote, Wyman should focus on ensuring that the upcoming election reverses the trend — under her leadership — of dwindling voter turnout,” Stolz added. (Analysis published by NPI shows that voter turnout has been consistently falling during Wyman’s tenure as Secretary of State.)

The ACLU of Washington, which has long been a leading advocate for the right to privacy in the Evergreen State, registered its opposition as well.

“The ACLU of Washington is disappointed in the Secretary of State’s proposal, which is a solution looking for a problem,” said Shankar Narayan, ACLU of Washington Technology and Project Director. “There is no credible evidence of non-citizens voting in Washington — such actions are already a felony in Washington and could lead to an individual being deported. Rather than adding layers of bureaucracy that will deter legitimate voters or falsely stigmatizing immigrants, our public officials should be making the ballot more, rather than less, accessible.”

“Commandeering state drivers’ licenses to become de facto national ID cards is an expensive proposal that would rely on flawed federal databases. Doing so would not improve public safety and would add needless burden to the process of getting a license. Washington can do better than this flawed policy,” Narayan commented.

Legislators have already been discussing how and whether to respond to the Department of Homeland Security’s latest manufactured deadlines for complying with provisions of the more than decade-old REAL ID Act.

“Bipartisan work on REAL ID has been underway in the Legislature for several years – led by House Speaker Frank Chopp, Democratic Representative Judy Clibborn and Republican Senator Curtis King – with legislation already scheduled to be introduced in the 2017 Session,” Podlodowski observed.

“The conversation on REAL ID and Automatic Voter Registration has been developing with Wyman sitting on the sidelines. Only now, after a recent tragedy, is she stepping forward to score political points.”

The aforementioned tragedy is the mass murder of five people at Cascade Mall in Burlington: Sarai Lara (16), Chuck Eagan (61), Belinda Galde (64), Beatrice Dotson (95), Galde’s mother, and Shayla Martin (52). In the wake of the shooting, news media questioned whether suspected perpetrator Arcan Cetin (who has confessed to the murders) was in fact an American citizen.

In our view, Wyman and her team inappropriately used Cetin’s terrible crime and the reporting surrounding it as fodder for their news release.

The release quotes Wyman is saying:

“This issue pales in comparison to the tragedy of five innocent lives lost. But when the citizenship of Mr. Cetin was publicly called into question as part of the story, it shined a bright light on the fact that under current state law, as election administrators, we are not able to confirm the citizenship of any registered voter.”

This issue doesn’t have anything to do with what happened in Burlington.

NPI believes our response to Washington’s declining voter turnout needs to include eliminating barriers to voting, not creating new ones.

Wyman’s news release today improperly conflates several issues — specifically, the federal government’s manufactured REAL ID deadlines and Washington’s response, the accuracy and integrity of the state’s voter rolls, and what needs to be done to effectively implement automatic voter registration.

Wyman’s call for “citizenship checks” sounds akin to a photo identification scheme for Washington State. Washington is mostly vote by mail, with only a few accessible voting centers, so Republicans can’t argue we need a law that would require voters to present certain forms of photo ID at polling places.

But Kim Wyman is now arguing that “election administrators” like her need to be able to verify if a voter is in fact a citizen.

Why? As far as the rights of natural persons are concerned, guilty until proven innocent is incompatible with the values our country was founded on.

Our initial response to hearing this proposal was to ask some questions, namely:

  1. Which provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005 are you proposing to comply with? (The law has a troubled history and its implementation is very incomplete, having been repeatedly delayed.)
  2. What is the estimated/approximate cost of your proposed legislation?
  3. How will it be paid for?
  4. Are you actually preparing a draft of agency request legislation, or are you going to defer to partner legislators to work on that?
  5. What do you say to those who contend full adoption/implementation of REAL ID could violate the constitutional rights guaranteed to Washingtonians by the Washington State Constitution?

Wyman’s staff did not offer answers to these questions, except to say that Wyman anticipates working with Judy Clibborn and Curtis King, the respective current chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees, on this legislation.

(That’s assuming that voters preserve the status quo in Olympia. The parties are battling furiously for control over both chambers. Republicans’ hopes of winning both have largely faded, while Democrats are emboldened about expanding their House majority and electing a majority in the Senate as well.)

Jay Inslee and Bill Bryant square off in second Washington gubernatorial debate

Once again, good evening from Bellevue. The first presidential debate is behind us, and now we’ll be liveblogging the second Washington gubernatorial debate from Bellevue, between Governor Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Bill Bryant.

We will begin…

UPDATE, 8:11 PM (Andrew): That was a great answer from Jay Inslee on what’s needed to address our gun violence epidemic.

UPDATE, 8:12 PM (Andrew): Moving on to education…

UPDATE, 8:14 PM (Andrew): Bryant is doing his best to live up to Jay Inslee’s expectations by being repetitive and negative. He’s offering lots of platitudes, but no education funding plan of his own.

UPDATE, 8:16 PM (Andrew): Inslee: “We need to actually put meat on the bone” when it comes to funding our schools.

UPDATE, 8:17 PM (Andrew): This debate didn’t need an income tax question. Bad use of time.

UPDATE, 8:18 PM (Andrew): Natalie Brand interrupts Bill Bryant repeatedly after he violates debate rules.

UPDATE, 8:18 PM (Rennie): As Bryant claimed Inslee doesn’t have a plan for education, Inslee pointed out new investments in education he has made.

UPDATE, 8:18 PM (Andrew): Inslee has all the more reason to smile now. What a huge fumble by Bryant.

UPDATE, 8:21 PM (Andrew): Inslee once again fact checks Bryant; notes that Bryant doesn’t have a plan and you can’t cut taxes while sustaining public services. Arithmetic matters.

UPDATE, 8:22 PM (Andrew): Inslee says that the public investments in transportation made under his leadership must be protected, and that won’t happen if Bryant replaces him.

UPDATE, 8:22 PM (Rennie): Inslee speaks about closing corporate tax loopholes to fund education and accuses Bryant of wanting to keep the loopholes.

UPDATE, 8:22 PM (Andrew): Light rail moves people, not cars, Governor. :)

UPDATE, 8:23 PM (Andrew): Bryant doesn’t want to give Inslee even an ounce of credit for the Connecting Washington package. Instead he blames Inslee for “hyperpartisanship”. Whaaaat?

UPDATE, 8:24 PM (Andrew): At least Byrant admits that public transit is a good thing.

UPDATE, 8:25 PM (Andrew): Bryant makes same mistake as Inslee and refers to cars when he meant people. Concludes by saying he opposes ST3.

UPDATE, 8:26 PM (Andrew): Inslee points out that ST3 also includes more Express bus service.

UPDATE, 8:27 PM (Andrew): “I’m for building infrastructure,” Inslee says, noting that Bill Bryant has seemingly changed his positions on tolling and the Alaskan Way viaduct replacement project.

UPDATE, 8:28 PM (Andrew): The candidates are now responding to a question about our homelessness crisis.

UPDATE, 8:30 PM (Andrew): Inslee connecting the dots between rising rents and increased homelessness. Notes that we need more rapid rehousing.

UPDATE, 8:32 PM (Andrew): Bryant admits at the beginning of the campaign, he thought homelessness was “a municipal issue”. It’s an issue at every level, Bill.

UPDATE, 8:33 PM (Andrew): Inslee schools Bryant on homelessness funding.

UPDATE, 8:39 PM (Andrew): Intriguing, novel question for the candidates: What image in the last year that you’ve seen has moved you? Bryant has to go first, and he doesn’t identify a specific image, but rather to photos he’s seen of kids in schools he’s visited, notably charter schools.

UPDATE, 8:41 PM (Andrew): Inslee says the image that sticks in his head is of his grandson Chase Inslee enjoying a blackberry milkshake.

UPDATE, 8:46 PM (Andrew): Inslee genuinely seems to be enjoying himself on stage as he takes questions from the moderator. He’s relaxed, cheerful, happy, diving into policy.

UPDATE, 8:47 PM (Andrew): The candidates are talking about closing the gender pay gap. Inslee was happy to tout his support for equal pay for equal work legislation.

UPDATE, 8:52 PM (Andrew): The candidates are now talking minimum wage. Bryant is trying to defend his opposition to I-1433 while claiming he supports increasing the minimum wage (but only in certain places).

UPDATE, 8:53 PM (Rennie): Bryant only wants regional minimum wage increases and not a state wide increase.

UPDATE, 8:53 PM (Andrew): Hurrah — climate change won in the Microsoft Pulse Poll, so now the candidates will be asked a question about that all important issue.

UPDATE, 8:56 PM (Rennie): Bryant claims to be an environmentalist, but doesn’t want to raise any taxes to pay for efforts to address the issues.

UPDATE, 8:57 PM (Andrew): Asked about I-732, Inslee notes he doesn’t think it’s actually revenue neutral as its sponsors claim. He’s not supporting the initiative. Neither are we.

UPDATE, 8:58 PM (Andrew): Our debate feed just disappeared and has been replaced by Dr. Phil. What the heck, @KING5?

UPDATE, 8:59 PM (Rennie): Bryant has been decidedly on the negative side in attacking Inslee. Inslee was much more positive.

Liveblogging the first presidential debate of 2016 from the great Pacific Northwest

Good evening, and welcome to NPI’s live coverage of the first presidential debate of 2016. NPI staff will be watching and sharing impressions of the debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump as it progresses. The debate, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, is being broadcast on all major networks as well as Facebook and Twitter.

We will begin…

UPDATE, 6:02 PM (Andrew): The debate is about to begin. Lester Holt will be welcoming the candidates onstage shortly.

UPDATE, 6:15 PM (Rennie): Trump responds by talking about trade and jobs leaving the country. He also blames the tax system for the lack of jobs.

UPDATE, 6:17 PM (Rennie): Trump speaks about charging an import tariff on products made outside the US

UPDATE, 6:21 PM (Andrew): Clinton doesn’t seem too unnerved by Trump’s interruptions thus far.

UPDATE, 6:22 PM (Rennie): Trump brings up the old Republican talking point about a failed solar panel company, in response to Hillary’s claim that Trump is a climate change denier.

UPDATE, 6:22 PM (Andrew): Trump keeps harping on NAFTA and then goes on the attack over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Clinton gets in a zinger, finally: “Donald, I know you live in your own reality.”

UPDATE, 6:25 PM (Rennie): Trump is claiming tax breaks will create jobs, a tired Republican claim.

UPDATE, 6:25 PM (Andrew): So far Clinton is getting the better of Trump in this debate, keeping her cool while Trump sounds increasingly unhinged and angry. He’s been raising his voice a lot.

UPDATE, 6:26 PM (Andrew): Clinton points debate viewers to her website, hillaryclinton.com.

UPDATE, 6:26 PM (Andrew): “Please, fact checkers, get to work.” — Hillary Clinton

UPDATE, 6:27 PM (Rennie): Hillary claims her plan will decrease the national debt, while Trump’ plan will increase the debt.

UPDATE, 6:29 PM (Andrew): “Let’s start the clock again, Lester,” Clinton says.

UPDATE, 6:29 PM (Rennie): Trump doesn’t seem to be handling the debate well. He seems like he is on the edge of loosing control.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM (Andrew): Trump just can’t keep his mouth shut. He HAS to talk.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM (Rennie): Clinton seems much more confident in the debate.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM (Andrew): “I don’t think top down works in America,” Clinton adds.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM (Andrew): “Broad based, inclusive growth is what we need in America.”

UPDATE, 6:31 PM (Andrew): “Believe me,” Trump intones. Drink!

UPDATE, 6:32 PM (Rennie): Trump reverts to calling Hillary an ineffectual politician.

UPDATE, 6:32 PM (Andrew): Trump gets in a shot at The Fed. Lester Holt asks Trump why he hasn’t asked his tax returns.

UPDATE, 6:32 PM (Andrew): Trump again claims he isn’t releasing his tax returns because he’s being audited. That’s a phony explanation.

UPDATE, 6:33 PM (Rennie): Trump claims he hasn’t released his tax returns because he is under a “routine audit” .

UPDATE, 6:33 PM (Andrew): Holt fact checks Trump and debunks his phony explanation.

UPDATE, 6:34 PM (Andrew): “I’m not even complaining,” Trump says, as he vocally complains.

UPDATE, 6:35 PM (Rennie): Trump says that he has been audited for 15 years by the IRS and tries to change the subject to Hillary’s emails.

UPDATE, 6:35 PM (Andrew): Clinton highlights investigative reporting into Trump’s finances as she takes over the floor.

UPDATE, 6:36 PM (Andrew): Trump sighs.

UPDATE, 6:36 PM (Andrew): The Donald doesn’t look happy or comfortable at all. Perhaps that’s because Clinton is taking him apart.

UPDATE, 6:36 PM (Andrew): “There’s something he’s hiding,” Clinton says,

UPDATE, 6:37 PM (Rennie): Hillary claims Trump probably doesn’t pay Federal taxes. Trump said “that means I am smart” .

UPDATE, 6:38 PM (Andrew): “I’m extremely underleveraged,” Trump claims.

UPDATE, 6:38 PM (Rennie): We need Bernie up there saying “I don’t care about Hillary’s damn emails”

UPDATE, 6:39 PM (Andrew): “We’ve become a Third World country,” Trump baselessly declares.

UPDATE, 6:40 PM (Andrew): “I’ve met a lot of the people who were stiffed by you and your businesses,” says Clinton.

UPDATE, 6:42 PM (Andrew): Clinton is on a roll here, absolutely eviscerating Trump.

UPDATE, 6:42 PM (Andrew): “It’s all words, it’s all sound bites,” Trump snaps. Pot, meet kettle.

UPDATE, 6:43 PM (Andrew): “I take advantage of the laws of the nation,'” Trump boasts, defending his unethical behavior.

UPDATE, 6:43 PM (Rennie): Hillary brings up that Trump’s business stiff many workers by not paying for work completed.

UPDATE, 6:44 PM (Andrew): “If I don’t get there one way, I’ll get there another,” Trump brags, talking about his newest hotel, on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C.

UPDATE, 6:45 PM (Andrew): Switching to a new topic… America’s Direction. First question is about race relations.

UPDATE, 6:45 PM (Andrew): Clinton’s in her element. “Everyone should be respected by the law, and everyone should respect the law.”

UPDATE, 6:47 PM (Rennie): Topic changes to racism issues in our country.  Hillary speaks of restoring trust in the police and providing better training for police. Finalizes by saying that guns need to be kept from people who should not have them.

UPDATE, 6:47 PM (Andrew): Trump’s opening comments on this topic are sound bites. “Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to use a couple of words: Law and order,” he snaps.

UPDATE, 6:49 PM (Andrew): Trump brings up stop and frisk and begins emphatically touting it. It’s like he’s trying to lose as many black voters as possible.

UPDATE, 6:49 PM (Rennie): Trump responds saying that we are lacking law and order and needs to be brought back. He continues by blaming illegal immigrants for crime.

UPDATE, 6:49 PM (Andrew): Holt follows up on stop and frisk, noting it was ruled unconstitutional. Trump’s response: “You’re wrong.”

UPDATE, 6:50 PM (Rennie): Trump argues for stop and frisk.

UPDATE, 6:51 PM (Rennie): Trump indirectly blames Obama for the crime in Chicago.

UPDATE, 6:51 PM (Andrew): Clinton assails Trump for painting such a bleak picture of black communities. “There’s a lot we should be proud of,” Clinton says.

UPDATE, 6:53 PM (Andrew): Clinton calls out the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. “We can’t just say law and order.”

UPDATE, 6:53 PM (Andrew): “I’m glad we’re ending private prisons in the federal system,” Clinton says, adding she wants them gone at the state level too.

UPDATE, 6:54 PM (Andrew): Clinton expertly fields a question about implicit bias in policing.

UPDATE, 6:54 PM (Rennie): Hillary points out racial inequality in our justice system. She applauds the end of private prisons in the Federal system and encourages the same for state level justice system.

UPDATE, 6:56 PM (Andrew): Trump is sounding more muted now, perhaps realizing Clinton was getting the better of him.

UPDATE, 6:57 PM (Andrew): Donald Trump, of all people, is in no position to scold Hillary Clinton for her choice of words.

UPDATE, 6:57 PM (Rennie): Trump mentions the 2nd ammendment and his support from the NRA in talking about his plan to reduce crime.

UPDATE, 6:59 PM (Andrew): “Democrat politicians” … nice slur, Donald…

UPDATE, 6:59 PM (Andrew): Lester Holt asks Trump about birtherism. Good.

UPDATE, 7:00 PM (Rennie): Trump claims that African community is used and abused by the Democratic party.

UPDATE, 7:02 PM (Andrew): Clinton’s burn of Trump was rather something.

UPDATE, 7:02 PM (Andrew): “I say nothing, I say nothing.” Wrong, Donald. All you do is say stuff. You don’t do anything else besides that and collect money from people for the use of your name.

UPDATE, 7:02 PM (Rennie): Trump claims that he “did a good job” at getting Obama to produce his birth certificate.

UPDATE, 7:04 PM (Andrew): Once again, Clinton takes Trump apart, showing that she knows her history.

UPDATE, 7:04 PM (Andrew): “The birther lie was a very hurtful one,” Clinton says.

UPDATE, 7:05 PM (Andrew): Wow. That was an incredible answer by Clinton.

UPDATE, 7:06 PM (Andrew): Trump is trying to turn the tables… and utterly failing.

UPDATE, 7:06 PM (Andrew): Trump is all too happy to take credit.

UPDATE, 7:09 PM (Andrew): Clinton says we need to stand strong against Russian cyberattacks, and expresses her incredulity that Trump would invite the Russians to hack U.S. networks.

UPDATE, 7:10 PM (Rennie): Topic is cyber security. Hillary says that Russia is to blame for increased cyber attacks. Hillary accuses Trump of inviting Putin to hack Americans.

UPDATE, 7:11 PM (Andrew): Trump falsely asserts that under President Obama “we’ve lost control over what we used to control.”

UPDATE, 7:13 PM (Andrew): Clinton apparently doesn’t see the need to refute Trump’s last answer, preferring instead to talk seriously about what’s needed to defeat the Islamic State group.

UPDATE, 7:15 PM (Andrew): “We should have taken the oil,” Trump declares. What a con man.

UPDATE, 7:16 PM (Andrew): Clinton schools Trump on how the withdrawal from Iraq actually went down, also pointing out that Trump supported going into Iraq at the time of the invasion.

UPDATE, 7:17 PM (Andrew): “I have to respond,” Trump tells Lester Holt.

UPDATE, 7:19 PM (Andrew): This debate has reminded us that Donald Trump is totally, utterly unprepared and unqualified to be President of the United States.

UPDATE, 7:19 PM (Andrew): “I think we have to get NATO to go into the Middle East with us,” Trump says.

UPDATE, 7:20 PM (Andrew): Trump is now debating Lester Holt.

UPDATE, 7:21 PM (Andrew): Trump is now appealing to journalists to talk to Sean Hannity to back up Trump’s version of events concerning his position on Iraq.

UPDATE, 7:22 PM (Andrew): Donald Trump is blatantly, flagrantly lying to hundreds of millions of people.

UPDATE, 7:22 PM (Rennie): Trump is arguing emphatically that he was not for the Iraq war.

UPDATE, 7:22 PM (Andrew): Clinton can’t believe what she’s hearing either. This is surreal.

UPDATE, 7:23 PM (Andrew): “I think my strongest asset is my temperament,” Trump declares.

UPDATE, 7:23 PM (Andrew): Clinton happily takes over and begins schooling Trump again. NATO history lesson!

UPDATE, 7:24 PM (Andrew): Clinton begins laying the context to explain the JCPOA with Iran.

UPDATE, 7:26 PM (Andrew): Clinton makes the point that we can’t trust Donald Trump with nuclear weapons, or nuclear policy. We need nuclear nonproliferation.

UPDATE, 7:26 PM (Andrew): Trump just showed us how much that line of Hillary’s bothers him (“A man who can be baited with a tweet…”)

UPDATE, 7:27 PM (Andrew): Only Sith deal in absolutes, Donald. You keep saying that we never win anymore/we keep losing. It’s false.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM (Andrew): Right wing language man Frank Luntz is analyzing Trump in real time… and excoriating him.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM (Andrew): Trump babbling again.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM (Rennie): Sounds like Trump wants another nuclear weapons race with Russia, yet claims we need to reduce nuclear weapons in the world.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM (Andrew): Trump is acting like he’s at one of his rallies, not a debate with Hillary Clinton.

UPDATE, 7:30 PM (Andrew): “Believe me…” Drink!

UPDATE, 7:30 PM (Andrew): Clinton reassures U.S. allies, including in East Asia, that as President, she’ll honor the nation’s commitments.

UPDATE, 7:32 PM (Andrew): People follow our presidential campaigns around the world, looking for clues as to how the next President will govern, Clinton points out.

UPDATE, 7:34 PM (Rennie): On foreign relations, Hillary seems to have a much better grasp of reality.

UPDATE, 7:34 PM (Andrew): Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. Donald Trump isn’t a man, he’s a sad excuse for a human being.

UPDATE, 7:35 PM (Andrew): Trump just got owned.

UPDATE, 7:35 PM (Andrew): Clinton’s smiling response on the stamina attack was incredibly good.

UPDATE, 7:36 PM (Andrew): Clinton demolishes Trump again. That may have been her best takedown yet.

UPDATE, 7:37 PM (Andrew): Trump complaining about “not nice”. Says the guy who speaks from the gutter.

UPDATE, 7:38 PM (Andrew): “I want to make America great again.” Drink!

UPDATE, 7:40 PM (Rennie): Debates are over. Hillary clearly won this debate.

UPDATE, 8:13 PM (Rennie): Bryant stresses mental health is the cause of gun violence and blames Inslee for not doing enough for helping the mentally ill.

BIG NEWS: Attorney General Ferguson files *three* new complaints against Tim Eyman!

Responding to a set of citizen’s action notices sent earlier this year by Washingtonians For Ethical Government and Keep Washington Rolling, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office announced this morning it has filed three new complaints in Thurston County Superior Court against Tim Eyman and his associates for serious violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws.

“Washington’s campaign finance laws require — and Washingtonians deserve — fair, accurate and timely disclosure,” Ferguson said in a statement.

“When political committees create confusion rather than transparency, I will hold them and the people in charge accountable.”

Ferguson’s action means that there are now officially four cases against Tim Eyman and his associates in the courts. Here’s a summary of each:

  • The first active case concerns numerous violations uncovered by a multiyear Public Disclosure Commission investigation into the financing of Eyman’s self-serving I-517, Eyman’s failed attempt to make it easier and cheaper for him to run future initiative campaigns. The investigation was sparked by a complaint filed in August 2012 by Sherry Bockwinkel. The Attorney General took over the case last autumn after the PDC turned it over with a request to prosecute, but progress has been very slow due to Eyman’s stonewalling.
  • The second active case, one of the three just filed, concerns improper repayment of more than a million dollars in loans made by Eyman and his wealthy benefactors to one of Eyman’s committees. This case stems from a citizen action notice sent by Keep Washington Rolling in June.
  • The third active case, another of the three just filed, principally concerns an illegal independent expenditure Eyman launched back in April of this year against Democratic legislators from suburban and rural districts who refused to do his bidding during the 2016 legislative session. This case stems from a citizen action notice sent by Washingtonians For Ethical Government in May.
  • The fourth active case, the last of the three just filed, concerns Eyman and his associates’ failure to disclose an interest payment on a loan made to one of Eyman’s committees as the law requires. This case also stems from a citizen action notice sent by Keep Washington Rolling in June.

Citizen action notices, for readers who don’t know, are a mechanism for enforcing Washington’s public disclosure laws. RCW Chapter 42.17A provides:

(4) A person who has notified the attorney general and the prosecuting attorney in the county in which the violation occurred in writing that there is reason to believe that some provision of this chapter is being or has been violated may himself or herself bring in the name of the state any of the actions (hereinafter referred to as a citizen’s action) authorized under this chapter.

The law goes on to say that a citizen’s action can only be brought if the Attorney General and the requisite Prosecuting Attorney have failed to commence an action against the violator within a certain period of time.

Because Ferguson’s office has chosen to take over the cases, they will be prosecuted by the State of Washington’s own attorneys instead of by Washingtonians For Ethical Government or Keep Washington Rolling on behalf of the state.

Ferguson’s decision to prosecute these cases renews a promise he made to vigorously enforce Washington’s public disclosure laws during and after his 2012 campaign. He faces only token opposition this year for reelection.

Tim Eyman has been operating as though he were above the law for a very long time. He has been given many chances — far more than he deserves — to clean up his operation, and he has spurned those opportunities.

Now he and his associates must suffer the consequences.

We thank Attorney General Ferguson and his team for bringing these cases. Justice is better served when flagrant violations like these are promptly prosecuted.

As mentioned, Eyman has been stonewalling in the extreme in an attempt to postpone his day of reckoning in the first active case, concerning violations that are several years old. Over the summer, Ferguson was compelled to request that Eyman be held in contempt of court for failing to turn over materials in a timely and complete fashion. Eyman’s stonewalling so far has cost him and his associates more than $30,000 in attorney’s fees and court expenses.

Let’s hope those judgments are merely the beginning of the penalties Eyman will have to pay for flouting our public disclosure laws for so long.

Sound Transit inaugurates service on Angle Lake Link, bringing light rail to S. 200th Street

The communities of South King County, and leaders from around the Puget Sound Region gathered this morning in Seatac to officially inaugurate service to and from Sound Transit’s newest Link light rail station at South 200th Street and 28th Avenue South. Angle Lake is the first of several new Link extensions approved and funded under the 2008 Sound Transit 2 regional ballot measure.

Originally slated to open in 2020, Sound Transit is delivering light rail service to Angle Lake four years early and $40 million under budget. The early win was made possible thanks in part to federal grants and a leadership team that took advantage of low construction bids during the Great Recession.

This investment in public infrastructure, strongly supported by NPI, also solidifies living-wage jobs at a time of great instability, and will continue to expand access and opportunities to south King County residents for generations to come.

Click the photo below to browse a selection of images from yesterday. An additional collection of images of the station dedication can be viewed on In Brief.

The station itself, which is expected to spur economic development and draw 5,400 daily riders by 2018, is a dazzling new landmark for the neighborhood.

The elevated platform crowns a once-drab stretch of International Boulevard (Highway 99), and frames spectacular views of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountain range from nearly every angle.

The colorful public art, including Laura Haddad’s “Cloud”, blends perfectly with the architecture. Even the 1,050-stall parking garage could be mistaken for a work by Frank Gehry or Renzo Piano thanks to an abstract facade made up of flowing blue steel beams. It is topped with solar panels that will generate fourteen kilowatts of power, according to data provided in Saturday’s presentation.

The pleasing curved lines of the platform and garage are linked by a large central plaza and walkway covered with matching blue glass. The energetic colors will certainly bring a refreshing tone to Seattle’s many dark and dreary days.

Thankfully though, the sun was shining on the hundreds gathered to mark Saturday’s grand opening ceremony.

The revelers were as varied as the surrounding community, home to some of the nation’s most ethnically and linguistically diverse zip codes.

King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Board member Dave Upthegrove emceed the speaking program, which featured remarks from:

  • Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff,
  • Federal Transit Authority regional administrator Linda Gehrke;
  • 33rd Legislative District State Representative Mia Gregerson;
  • Seatac Mayor Michael Siefkes;
  • Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman;
  • Alaska Airlines community relations director Shaunta Hyde;
  • Washington State Building & Construction Trades executive Lee Newgent;
  • King County Executive Dow Constantine, Chair of the Sound Transit Board.

Also in attendance were Seatac resident and former King County Councilmember Julia Patterson and former Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl, both instrumental in the planning of Sound Transit 2, which overwhelmingly passed eight years ago.

Perhaps the most resonating speech came from former Highline College student body president and current Seattle University student Pa Ousman Jobe.

Jobe’s activism was fueled by a vision for better transit options that could open doors people in the Highline area. He cited the importance of providing reliable transit as an issue of equity and opportunity.

These now-tangible benefits of our investment in Sound Transit serve as a timely reminder of the importance and urgency of finishing what we have started.

In November, voters in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties will be asked to approve the third phase of Sound Transit’s regional transit plan, which appears on the ballot as Regional Proposition 1. Mass Transit Now campaigners were out in force and organizing a canvassing event immediately following the celebration.

The inauguration at Angle Lake Station brought the community together to celebrate the achievements of yesterday and today. Now, that message must inspire much-needed action to help keep our region moving.

State collects $20,000 in attorney’s fees and court costs from Tim Eyman and his PACs

Scandal-plagued initiative promoter Tim Eyman and the political committees he controls have agreed to reimburse Washington State taxpayers to recoup the costs incurred to compel his cooperation into its investigation into his concealment of campaign funds, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has announced.

“I refused to allow Tim Eyman and Citizen Solutions to impede our investigation,” Ferguson said in a press release announcing the news. “The court has appropriately ordered Eyman to allow us direct access to the information we requested and to pay taxpayers back for wasting my office’s time.”

Now that is has access to the records it wants, Ferguson’s office is no longer seeking to have Eyman held in contempt of court — at least not for the time being. Judge Ellen Fair has signed off on the agreement between the state and Eyman, in which Eyman has agreed to pay up and the AG has agreed to drop its motion.

Eyman’s buddies at Citizen Solutions were previously ordered to pay $12,969.50 in attorney’s fees and court costs by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson, in a hearing we covered last month.

That brings the cost of Eyman’s stonewalling to over $30,000 in penalties.

“Since the AG filed his contempt motion, Eyman and the committees produced additional tax records and some banking records, but still failed to produce all the records as requested,” Ferguson’s office noted in its press release.”Now that the court-ordered releases and costs and fees associated with the enforcement of the Attorney General’s subpoenas have been received, the investigation continues.”

It has been almost exactly a year since the Public Disclosure Commission voted unanimously to refer this matter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for prosecution, having found that Eyman committed multiple apparent violations of RCW 42.17A when he qualified Initiatives 1185 and 517 to the ballot in 2012.

(I-1185 appeared on the November 2012 ballot; I-517 appeared on the November 2013 ballot as an initiative to the Legislature that was not acted upon.)

Ferguson’s office summarized the violations it is investigating as follows:

  • $623,325 in payments by Voters Want More Choices to the signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions “incurred in a manner to effect concealment” because they were described in the committee’s reports as paying for signature gathering, when $308,185 was passed from Citizen Solutions to Eyman’s for-profit company, “Tim Eyman, Watchdog for Taxpayers” on July 11, 2012;
  • Eyman’s use of approximately $170,000 in contributions from Voters Want More Choices for personal living expenses;
  • The expenditure of about $200,000 contributed to support Initiative 1185 to fund signature gathering for a separate initiative, Initiative 517;
  • Concealment of Eyman as the source of $182,000 of in-kind contributions attributed in reports to Citizens in Charge, a Virginia-based company; and
  • Failure of Voters Want More Choices and Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives to file complete and accurate reports of contribution and expenditure activity.

All those violations are part of the same case.

But that’s not the extent of the trouble Eyman is in.

In the months since Ferguson’s office has taken over from the PDC, Eyman and his associates have continued to flout RCW Chapter 42.17A, prompting Washingtonians For Ethical Government and Keep Washington Rolling to each notify Ferguson of their intent to bring lawsuits against Eyman in the name of the state to enforce Washington’s public disclosure laws.

In May, Washingtonians For Ethical Government alleged that Eyman broke the law when he launched a series of independent expenditures against Democratic legislative candidates the previous month. The targeted candidates had refused to capitulate to Eyman’s demand that the Legislature sabotage the Constitution’s majority vote clause during the 2016 session.

The following month, having been asked to look into the matter by Ferguson’s office, the PDC confirmed the allegations and recommended Ferguson prosecute.

That same month, Keep Washington Rolling alleged in a set of forty-five day letters that Eyman had failed to properly report loans made to his committees.

And last week, Washingtonians For Ethical Government initiated a new citizen’s action against Eyman for concealing where his newest PAC’s seed money came from. (Eyman’s newest PAC, “We Love Our Cars”, was formed to promote I-869, an initiative to the Legislature for 2017. It has reported raising more than $150,000, but over $140,000 of that is unaccounted for in the committee’s reports.)

The Attorney General’s office has not yet announced how it intends to proceed with respect to prosecuting these more recent violations, but hopefully it will soon.

LIVE from Link: All aboard to Angle Lake!

Good afternoon from SeaTac! Nearly eight years ago, I had the great privilege of joining fellow activists, elected leaders, and media for a preview ride on Sound Transit’s Link light rail system, which at the time was undergoing testing in preparation for its grand opening nine months later.

Today, Sound Transit has once again invited representatives of NPI to participate in a preview ride — this time from SeaTac/Airport Station to the brand new Angle Lake Station, which will become the new southern terminus of our growing light rail system when it opens for business this Saturday, September 24th.

Though we stepped aboard the train only moments ago, we’re already almost at our destination — it takes almost no time at all to glide between SeaTac/Airport and Angle Lake. Once we detrain, King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove will offer brief remarks at the new station, and then we’ll board a northbound train to return to SeaTac/Airport.

This post will be updated as this special event progresses.

Located at South 200th Street and 28th Avenue South in SeaTac, Angle Lake Station is an elevated station, similar to SeaTac/Airport and Tukwila International Boulevard Stations. Unlike those stations, however, it was designed as a true park and ride to help entice south county automobile owners to try out light rail.

Angle Lake Station from South 200th Street

Sound Transit’s Angle Lake Link Light Rail Station as seen from South 200th Street (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The station garage can accommodate more than a thousand vehicles, and there are even more parking stalls located on the surface around the station.

Because Angle Lake is an elevated station, we have the ability to liveblog from Link again, just like we did all those years ago when Sound Transit invited us to try out Central Link (and later, Airport Link) before it was open. We weren’t able to liveblog the University Link preview ride back in March prior to Opening Day because that segment of the line is all underground and did not have cellular connectivity at the time (it does now) but we did publish photos immediately afterwards.

UPDATE: We detrained and were treated to brief remarks on the station platform by Councilmember Upthegrove and Executive Constantine. Upthegrove says his days of regularly fighting traffic on I-5 are over. Starting on Monday, he’ll be commuting to and from downtown Seattle using the new Angle Lake Station.

Constantine touted the early project delivery date and stressed the importance of further system expansion with ST3, which is on the autumn ballot.

After finishing their remarks, Upthegrove, Constantine, and Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff took questions from reporters.

Media were given an opportunity to walk around the station platform a bit, then we boarded a train for the return journey to SeaTac/Airport Station. As mentioned, it’s a quick trip. The moment we pulled up to the SeaTac/Airport platform, our train went into service and became a regular train to University of Washington Station.

As we exited, we got some funny looks from bemused riders who were not expecting the train that was pulling up to have any people on it. After this weekend, though, SeaTac/Airport Station will cease to be the southern terminus of the line, and that distinction will pass to Angle Lake for the next few years.

A number of high quality photos from today’s preview ride and station walkabout have been posted to In Brief for your viewing enjoyment.

NPI thanks Redmond City Council for voting to endorse Sound Transit 3

Editor’s Note: Earlier tonight, the Redmond City Council voted 5-2 to take a position supporting a yes vote on Regional Proposition 1, also known as Sound Transit 3, which NPI strongly supports. The following letter of appreciation was penned by NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve to the five councilmembers who voted in favor of the resolution to take a yes position. 

Dear Councilmembers Allen, Birney, Margeson, Schutz, and Stilin:

On behalf of the team at the Northwest Progressive Institute, I want to thank you for your enthusiastic yes vote tonight for Council Resolution No. 1457, which expresses the City of Redmond’s support of Regional Proposition 1, more commonly known as Sound Transit 3 (ST3). Together with the many other organizations that belong to the Mass Transit Now coalition, NPI is working hard to pass ST3 and we are very grateful to have a majority on our hometown City Council voice support for our efforts to bring high capacity transit to neighborhoods like downtown Redmond.

As you may know from hearing me testify at past Council meetings, I am a lifelong resident of Redmond who got started in politics many years ago as a high school freshman working to defend Sound Transit’s proposed Link light rail system from I-776, a destructive Tim Eyman initiative intended to prevent the project from ever getting off the ground. Before Tim Eyman proposed I-776, I was a spectator, watching the news and observing the goings-on.

The threat posed by I-776 to Link light rail prompted me to become an activist, advocating for the high capacity transit our region needs at every level, and subsequently thereafter to found the Northwest Progressive Institute, a strategy center dedicated to raising our country and region’s quality of life through insightful research and imaginative advocacy.

At the time I became an activist, Sound Transit didn’t have many friends. It was under attack from all directions, and many pundits believed it was only a matter of time before the agency was dissolved by the Legislature.

But I felt that such an outcome would be disastrous for our region’s future. Along with other pro-transit activists, I campaigned and lobbied for Sound Transit to get the support it needed to begin constructing Central Link.

Thankfully, that support was obtained, and today we can say Central Link is a reality… along with Airport Link, University Link, and Angle Lake Link, which opens to the public this Saturday morning. Soon, East Link will be a reality too, and light rail will reach Redmond’s Overlake neighborhood. Construction has already begun, and is slated to be finished in a few years. I was very pleased to join with several of you for the groundbreaking ceremonies just a few months ago.

Sound Transit may have had a rocky beginning, but since Joni Earl became CEO and transformed the agency, it has proved it can successfully deliver big projects successfully, often on time and under budget… or even ahead of schedule. The culture of excellence Joni instilled continues today under new CEO Peter Rogoff.

Angle Lake Link is a case in point. The Angle Lake extension and its accompanying station was originally slated to be completed four years from now, but it is opening early thanks to smart planning and the availability of federal funds.

Thanks to ST2, Sound Transit has the funding to build East Link out to Overlake. If we approve ST3, Sound Transit will be able to move forward with construction of East Link’s final planned segment, bringing light rail to downtown Redmond, where the Northwest Progressive Institute is headquartered.

With Sound Transit 3, we have an opportunity to extend Link in all directions and ensure that our region has a rail spine linking together Everett, Tacoma, Bellevue and Redmond with downtown Seattle and neighborhoods in between, as well as expand ST Express bus service, Sounder commuter rail, and provide new or higher capacity park and rides. As the resolution you approved noted, ST3 would also bring bus rapid transit to the busy I-405 corridor.

There are a lot of wins in ST3. It is a bold investment, to be sure. But as Councilmember Margeson noted in his eloquent remarks, we are without question benefiting today from the bold investments made by the taxpayers who came before us, including the Eisenhower Interstate System. It’s our turn to pay it forward and invest in the essential infrastructure our region needs.

What’s particularly exciting about ST3 is that it will help liberate us from auto dependence. In the aftermath of World War II, we unwisely abandoned proven, effective town planning practices, choosing to experiment with auto-centric development instead. That costly experiment produced a built environment (consisting of far-flung subdivisions, office parks, shopping malls, civic institutions, all linked by roadways) that requires a car to navigate. In other words, sprawl.

We are still living with the auto-centric land use, transportation, and public planning decisions made decades ago. For example, we had an opportunity in the 1960s to invest in a proper mass transit system for our region (with Forward Thrust), and we didn’t take it. We chose then and we have repeatedly chosen since to subsidize auto travel and auto ownership to an enormous extent, while neglecting to invest in alternative means of getting around. As a consequence, we have a transportation system in which the automobile is the dominant mode.

Our traffic mess is of our own making.

Many of us drive to get where we need to go not because we want to or because we enjoy driving, but because we currently have no other choice. Those of us who own cars can’t ditch them for transit that doesn’t exist.

Because we’ve constructed this built environment designed around the automobile instead of the needs of human beings, we’ve become hostages to gridlock and ever-worsening traffic congestion. Through nonstop commercial advertising and discriminatory official policy, we’re all encouraged to own cars and to drive them everywhere. Those who cannot or choose not to own a car (including the very young, seniors, and people with disabilities) are treated as second-class citizens.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Many of us who own cars would love not to be forced to drive to get to where we want to go.

Research has shown that transit must be reliable, frequent, and convenient to appeal to auto owners and compete for trips. By building a rail spine through our highly congested corridors, integrated with express bus, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit, we’ll be able to provide high capacity transit service that meets this criteria. We will be able to better serve everybody.

The benefits of this investment will not all be realized overnight. There are short term wins in Sound Transit 3, but this is foremost an investment in the long term.

Critics, who seem obsessed with instant gratification, say it’s not worth it because it will take too long and cost too much. But if we turn down ST3, we’ll just end up paying more and waiting even longer to get the rail spine that we need.

The endlessly-cynical critics may not be impressed by Sound Transit’s recent track record of delivering projects, but the rest of us should be. Most of the Sound Move projects have now been completed, and construction is already underway or done on a number of the ST2 projects approved and funded eight years ago.

Sound Transit staff have demonstrated an eagerness to look out for the people of this region. After ST2 passed, they didn’t sit on their laurels. They worked hard to begin implementing what the people voted for, even ahead of schedule. That’s why Angle Lake Link is opening this Saturday instead of four years from now.

If ST3 is approved, we can count on the team at Sound Transit to look for ways to speed up delivery of the ST3 projects too, advising Sound Transit’s board of opportunities to work with cities and our congressional delegation to speed up design and construction of those projects. Sound Transit has a proven track record of securing federal dollars for projects. If we give ST3 the green light, that gives Sound Transit the freedom to approach Senator Patty Murray with funding requests — requests Murray and Washington’s other representatives will be happy to act on.

By enthusiastically voting to support Sound Transit 3 this evening, you’ve shown the region that the City of Redmond — the Bicycle Capital of the Northwest! — is ready to do its part to make possible a future where people can live sustainably and have the freedom to get where they need to go without being forced to drive.

I thank you not only on behalf of myself and the team at NPI, but on behalf of fellow young people I know who are anxious for Link light rail to reach our community and others like it. We and the youth coming after us are ready to ride, and we’re grateful for your willingness to take a stand for this bold, needed investment in regional mobility. Let’s get Sound Transit 3 passed!

Sincerely,

Andrew Villeneuve
Founder and Executive Director
Northwest Progressive Institute

Kim Wyman’s explanation for Washington’s decline in voter turnout doesn’t make sense

Last week, the League of Women Voters of Seattle and King County held a well-attended debate between the two candidates running for Secretary of State this year — Republican incumbent Kim Wyman and Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski. A key topic discussed at the debate was what to do about voter turnout in Washington State, which has been declining for years.

Here’s what the candidates had to say, in their own words:

QUESTION: Next topic: Voter turnout. How would you increase voter turnout in our state?

TINA PODLODOWSKI: So voter turnout has been going down steadily under the current Secretary of State — every year for the last four years she’s been in office. Sometimes in looking at it, you compare it to the prior four year election, you look at seventeen percent declines, fourteen percent declines, nine percent declines… How do you change that? You do a couple of things. Number one is the big policy issues. Automatic voter registration. Same-day registration. Preregistration for sixteen and seventeen year olds. And postage free ballots, which hopefully we’ll talk about more because of what’s happening in Snohomish County today. Also, you need to do the work with county auditors, but also on the ground with good governmental organizations and nonprofit organizations in communities. That’s why you do that thirty-nine county audit. That’s why you have the numbers that show where are the problems. Is it with young people in the county? Is it particular communities of color? Is it a particular gender that’s having issues getting to the ballot box? You need to do that work and craft a strategy through the Department of Voter Engagement — that’s what my group would be called as Secretary of State, to make sure there’s a plan to get that done.

KIM WYMAN: So, when we’re talking about voter turnout, let’s go back to manipulating data. It was brought up by The Olympian and The News Tribune that… that when you just make that comparison and you cherry pick elections and you compare ’em, you can make some really inflammatory assumptions about turnout. But when you actually compare what turnout is… Turnout really is a function of what’s on the ballot. And when we look at presidential years, it’s [the] highest turnout year… Midterms follow second, and then the odd-year primaries and generals are the lowest turnout. And so, when you look at Washington State… in 2010, we had really high turnout, because we had really inflammatory issues on the ballot that had people fired up about taxation. So, what I’ve always tried to do, as County Auditor and now as Secretary of State, is to do things that really empower people to get their ballot in easily. We were the first county in the state to have drop boxes, for example. When I left Thurston County, we had more drop boxes than King County did at the time, and we were a tenth of the size of King County. So it’s about innovative ideas.

I was present at the debate and found Wyman’s answer to the turnout question very disappointing and puzzling. If inflammatory tax initiatives drive turnout, then the presence of Tim Eyman‘s controversial and incredibly destructive I-1366 on the ballot last year ought to have helped motivate people to return their ballots.

Instead, we saw the worst general election turnout in the history of the State of Washington. Yes, you read that correctly… the worst general turnout ever!

What’s on the ballot can influence turnout — but it’s hardly the only factor.

You’d think our incumbent Secretary of State would be alarmed at the downward spiral we have been seeing with voter turnout — a trend I documented last month here on the Cascadia Advocate. But Wyman doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge that the problem exists, let alone offer solutions to address it.

Tina Podlodowski is correct when she says voter turnout is declining, but she continues to be criticized by reporters for a video and a graph her campaign previously published that don’t distinguish between different types of elections.

“Podlodowski paints a misleading picture, comparing turnouts from elections that have little in common,” was how The Seattle Times’ David Gutman characterized it yesterday in a story for the state’s newspaper of record.

Context does matter, but what the data shows is that every statewide election that has been held during Kim Wyman’s tenure as Secretary of State has seen lower turnout than the comparable election four or eight years prior. There’s not even one election that’s bucked the trend. Sometimes the declines are slight, and sometimes they’re steep. But turnout is declining across the board. That’s a fact.

To illustrate this point, here is a brand new chart, created by NPI, that compares voter turnout in similar elections in Washington State. And by that, I mean that presidential year general elections are being compared to previous presidential year general elections, midterms to midterms, local elections to local elections, and so on. There are a total of nine different election types being compared in this chart, and the data points for each type are plotted on their own line. The chart shows data going back twenty years in an attempt to offer meaningful context.

Under Kim Wyman, Washington's voter turnout is declining

Some notes:

  • The first election in the chart is the September 1996 primary election, held in a presidential year. The last is the August 2016 Top Two election.
  • The figures used for the comparisons here are percentages — specifically, the percentage of registered voters who returned ballots in each election.
  • All percentages were provided by data published online or sent to NPI by the Secretary of State’s office.
  • There are two types of local election years: those that follow a presidential year and those that precede one. Local elections that follow a presidential election are classified as “Local Year A” and those that precede as “Local Year B”. Because many local positions are for four year terms, Local Year A elections are most similar to other Local Year A elections, and vice versa.
  • Each line, with two exceptions, contains a data point every four years, or, in the case of the presidential primary, every eight years.
  • Data points for the 2001 and 2003 blanket primaries aren’t included because the Secretary of State does not have complete statewide numbers for them.

Notice how every line — every line — is presently pointed downward. Again, across the board, looking at every type of election, turnout is headed in the wrong direction. That is true even so far this year — and this is a presidential election year!

Now, as I said in my previous post, Kim Wyman didn’t cause this alarming trend. But she isn’t doing anything to arrest it or reverse it. And she should be.

Gutman and his editors at the Times opted not to do a deep dive into Washington’s turnout data for the story they ran yesterday. For context and commentary, they turned to a professor at the University of Florida, who reinforced and repeated Wyman’s excuses for the state’s recent poor turnout.

“I didn’t fault Washington at all for having a low turnout; people have to have a reason to vote,” said Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who runs the U.S. Elections Project that tracks historical election data. “If there aren’t particularly competitive races at the top of the ballot, that’s going to drive turnout much more than some of these changes.”

Elections are mostly not comparable to one another; turnout in presidential years is higher than in midterm years, which, in turn, are higher than in off-year elections. Even among similar elections, turnout varies based on factors like whether there’s a competitive U.S. Senate or gubernatorial race on the ballot, or a high-profile initiative.

But turnout in off-year elections (held in odd-numbered years) has declined since 2011, setting a record-low last year. Turnout statewide dropped from 53 percent in 2011, to 45 percent in 2013 and 39 percent last year. Wyman says that’s part of a national trend. She said Washington still had higher turnouts than most places.

“You guys are doing pretty good on turnout,” McDonald said. “You could be doing better, but you’re doing pretty good.”

We disagree with Professor McDonald. Washington is not doing “pretty good” with respect to voter turnout. Outside of the last two presidential elections — the only recent elections we’d characterize as “pretty good” — Washington’s  turnout lately has ranged from okay to mediocre to historically abysmal.

When less than a majority of the registered voters are voting, particularly in a general election, it means laws are being made and officeholders elected by the few, not the many. That’s unhealthy for a democracy. That’s not something we should accept. We should have high standards for ourselves.

Part of the problem we have stems from how we talk and think about elections. Case in point: There is no such thing as an “off year” election, there are only “on” years. In Washington, every year is currently an election year and every election matters. “Off year election” needs to be banished from everyone’s vocabulary.

Incumbent Secretary of State Kim Wyman has a responsibility to sound the alarm about our turnout problem and propose solutions to address it. Instead, she keeps trying to make it sound like the trend is something she has no control over. Washington is not immune to national trends, to be sure, but if there’s a bad trend affecting the whole country, then we want to be bucking that trend.

Participation in democratic elections is not some kind of natural force like the tides. It is within our power to bolster turnout, and one way to do that is to eliminate barriers to voting. We ought to have more drop boxes, prepaid postage on ballots, automatic voter registration, and same day registration, for instance.

Those are reforms Tina Podlodowski embraces. Kim Wyman? Sadly, not so much. They’re simply not part of the vision she has outlined for the next four years.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren headed to Ohio to campaign for Hillary Clinton

Progressive heroes Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are both headed to Ohio this weekend to anchor organizing events for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Hillary For America announced this morning.

Details for Sanders’ appearances are as follows:

Bernie Sanders to Campaign for Hillary Clinton in Ohio, Lay Out Stakes of Election for Millennial Voters

On Saturday, September 17, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont will campaign for Hillary Clinton in Ohio, where he will lay out the stakes of November’s election. At public events in the Canton, Kent and Akron areas, Sanders will emphasize Clinton’s plans to support millennials, including making free community college and debt-free college available to all Americans, protecting access to health care for young Americans, reforming our immigration system and supporting DREAMers and their families, raising the minimum wage and protecting our climate. He will also urge Ohioans to register to vote ahead of the October 11 deadline.

This week, Hillary for Ohio released a report which finds that, under Clinton’s college plan, the New College Compact, 150,000 Ohio students would pay no tuition for a four-year college degree. Clinton’s plan allows families with incomes up to $125,000 — more than 89 percent of Ohio households — to pay no tuition at in-state public colleges and universities. The full report can be viewed online here.

In the Canton area, Sanders will kick off a “Weekend of Action” organizing event, and in the Kent and Akron areas, Sanders will rally Ohioans on college campuses. Additional details about these events will be released soon.

Members of the public who would like to attend these events should RSVP for each at the links below:

Canton area – Public RSVP Link
Kent area – Public RSVP Link
Akron area – Public RSVP Link

Details for Warren’s appearances are as follows:

Elizabeth Warren to Campaign for Hillary Clinton in Ohio, Lay Out Stakes of Election for Millennial Voters

This weekend, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will campaign for Hillary Clinton and Ted Strickland in Ohio, where she will lay out the stakes of November’s election for millennial voters. At public Ohio Democratic Party events in Columbus and Cleveland, Warren will emphasize Clinton’s plans to make free community college and debt-free college available to all Americans, while urging Ohioans to register to vote ahead of the October 11 deadline.

This week, Hillary for Ohio released a report which finds that, under Clinton’s college plan, the New College Compact, 150,000 Ohio students would pay no tuition for a four-year college degree. Clinton’s plan allows families with incomes up to $125,000 — more than 89 percent of Ohio households — to pay no tuition at in-state public colleges and universities. The full report can be viewed online here.

In Columbus on Saturday, Warren will hold an organizing event on campus at The Ohio State University. She will be joined by Strickland at the Cleveland event, which will be on Sunday, and additional details will be released soon. Members of the public who would like to attend these events should RSVP for each at the links below.

Columbus
When: 2:45 PM EDT, Saturday, September 17
Doors open to public: 1:45 PM EDT
Where: Archie Griffin Ballroom in the Ohio Union, 1739 N High Street, Columbus, OH
Public RSVP Link

Cleveland
When: 10:30 AM EDT, Sunday, September 18
Where: TBA, Cleveland, OH
Public RSVP Link

Meanwhile, next Thursday, Chelsea Clinton will also campaign in Ohio:

On Thursday, September 22, Chelsea Clinton will return to Ohio to campaign for Hillary Clinton. At an event in the Toledo area, she will lay out the stakes of November’s election for Ohio families and emphasize her mom’s belief that we are stronger together when the economy works for everyone – not just those at the top.

Unlike Trump, Clinton’s campaign has a large number of high profile Democratic leaders who can be called upon to headline events for the campaign, and Clinton’s campaign strategists are taking full advantage of this, with Hillary Clinton off the trail and recovering from pneumonia ahead of the first debate.

Hillary For America has sent President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to Pennsylvania, First Lady Michelle Obama to Virginia, President Bill Clinton to Nevada, and now Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to Ohio.

The campaign’s plan to send Sanders and Warren to Ohio was made public just one day after the release of a credible poll showing Donald Trump has a lead in Ohio:

Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 5 percentage points in a Bloomberg Politics poll of Ohio, a gap that underscores the Democrat’s challenges in critical Rust Belt states after one of the roughest stretches of her campaign.

The Republican nominee leads Clinton 48 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in a two-way contest and 44 percent to 39 percent when third-party candidates are included.

Sending both Warren and Sanders to Ohio for weekend events is a smart move. But when Hillary is able to campaign again, she needs to lay out a compelling case for how she will govern progressively and build an administration that will put the needs and concerns of the people — not powerful interests — first.

Tina Podlodowski to Snohomish County officials: Act now to protect the right to vote

Editor’s Note: Tina Podlodowski is one of two finalists for the position of Secretary of State. Today, her campaign published this open letter to Snohomish County elected leaders, calling on them to take immediate action to protect the right to vote. Requested actions include the placement of more drop boxes throughout the county. NPI strongly supports this open letter and thanks Tina for putting it together. We are reaching out to Kim Wyman’s staff to ask if the incumbent Secretary of State agrees with Tina that these actions should be taken.

Dear elected officials:

We request immediate action to protect the rights of all Snohomish County voters in the upcoming November 8th general election.

Free and fair elections are vital to the health of any democracy and in our democracy, your vote is your voice. Sadly, the voices of some voters will not be heard this year unless we remove serious barriers to voting.

On September 12th, 2016, the Everett Herald reported that Snohomish County ballots in the November 2016 election will require sixty-eight cents postage due to the weight of the ballot. (Cornfield, Jerry: “Longest Ballot in 10 Years Will Cost You 68 Cents to Mail.” Everett Herald 9/12/2016.)

This news is alarming because Snohomish County does not currently provide an adequate number of ballot drop boxes to serve the needs of its voters. There are only twelve ballot drop-box locations in Snohomish County. By comparison, there are thirty-six ballot drop off locations – three times as many – in Pierce County, which has about the same number of voters as Snohomish County.

Even with three times as many drop off locations, voters in Pierce County’s Tillicum village face barriers to both paying for postage or traveling the ten miles to the nearest drop box, and are struggling to get a drop box in their neighborhood. Clearly, with only twelve ballot drop-box locations, Snohomish voters are currently underserved.

According to the Survey of Performance of American Elections and PEW Charitable Trusts, more than thirty percent of Washington voters who used a ballot drop box in the 2014 general election did so because they did not have postage or needed to save money on postage.

Now, these same voters must either find a way to afford two stamps on their ballot or make the time to track down one of only twelve drop boxes.

Either of these expenditures could be enough to discourage many from casting their ballot and making their voice heard.

We ask that you take the following four actions immediately to rectify this problem:

  1. Request funding for an additional fifteen ballot drop boxes and/or drop box vans with extended hours, to be installed before October 20th in locations determined by population density, average income, and current drop box locations.
  2. Develop a comprehensive outreach plan to inform voters that two “Forever stamps” or sixty-eight cents of postage is necessary to mail back a ballot. This information should be made available in all ballot translation languages
  3. Work with the United States Postal Service to ensure adequate training for postal carriers is provided about the election laws and best practices for returning all ballots, regardless of postage, to the county elections office.
  4. Collaborate with local community groups throughout the county to identify other opportunities for communication, engagement and ensuring all voters are able to cast a ballot this November.

Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. Voting rights are the bedrock of our democracy and we hope you will take immediate action to rectify this serious threat to your constituents’ right to vote.

SIGN ON: Follow this link to add your name as a signatory to the open letter.

In memoriam, fifteen years later

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, which destroyed New York’s World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon, and claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Americans. In honor of those who died that day, we’re republishing a poem that we post annually here on The Cascadia Advocate.

New York's Twin Towers

Two thousand one, nine eleven
Two thousand plus arrive in heaven.
As they pass through the gate,
Thousands more appear in wait.
A bearded man with stovepipe hat
Steps forward saying, “Let’s sit, let’s chat.”

They settle down in seats of clouds,
A man named Martin shouts out proud,
“I have a dream!” and once he did
The Newcomer said, “Your dream still lives.”

Groups of soldiers in blue and gray
Others in khaki, and green then say
“We’re from Bull Run, Yorktown, the Maine”
The Newcomer said, “You died not in vain.”

From a man on sticks one could hear
“The only thing we have to fear…”
The Newcomer said, “We know the rest,
trust us sir, we’ve passed that test.”

“Courage doesn’t hide in caves.
You can’t bury freedom, in a grave.”
The Newcomers had heard this voice before
A distinct Yankee twang from Hyannisport shores.

A silence fell within the mist
Somehow the Newcomer knew that this
Meant time had come for her to say
What was in the hearts of the two thousand plus that day.

“Back on Earth, we wrote reports,
Watched our children play in sports
Worked our gardens, sang our songs
Went to church and clipped coupons
We smiled, we laughed, we cried, we fought
Unlike you, great we’re not”

The tall man in the stovepipe hat
Stood and said, “Don’t talk like that!
Look at your country, look and see
You died for freedom, just like me.”

Then, before them all appeared a scene
Of rubbled streets and twisted beams
Death, destruction, smoke and dust
And people working just ’cause they must

Hauling ash, lifting stones,
Knee deep in hell, but not alone
“Look! Blackman, Whiteman, Brownman, Yellowman
Side by side helping their fellow man!”
So said Martin, as he watched the scene
“Even from nightmares, can be born a dream.”

Down below three firemen raised
The colors high into ashen haze
The soldiers above had seen it before
On Iwo Jima back in ’44

The man on sticks studied everything closely
Then shared his perceptions on what he saw mostly
“I see pain, I see 20 tears,
I see sorrow – but I don’t see fear.”

“You left behind husbands and wives
Daughters and sons and so many lives
are suffering now because of this wrong
But look very closely. You’re not really gone.

All of those people, even those who’ve never met you
All of their lives, they’ll never forget you
Don’t you see what has happened?
Don’t you see what you’ve done?
You’ve brought them together as one.”

With that the man in the stovepipe hat said
“Take my hand,” and from there he led
two thousand plus heroes, Newcomers to heaven
On this day, two thousand one, nine eleven.

— by Paul Spreadbury, dedicated to the victims of September 11th

Tim Eyman continues attack on state Supreme Court, misquotes Orwell’s “Animal Farm”

With no initiative on the ballot to sell this year, scandal-plagued initiative promoter Tim Eyman has turned his attention to launching attacks on individuals and institutions he doesn’t like, namely the Washington State Supreme Court, Democratic candidates for office at all levels, and Sound Transit.

This afternoon, Eyman sent out yet another missive excoriating the Supreme Court in the wake of yesterday’s McCleary hearing. As much as Eyman loathes Sound Transit and Democratic elected leaders like Jay Inslee or Dow Constantine, it seems he despises the Supreme Court most of all — for it is the Court that has struck down most of the initiatives he has got past the voters, from I-695 and I-747 (later partially reinstated) to I-960/I-1053/I-1185 and I-1366 (not reinstated).

Eyman’s apparently been reading some classic literature lately, because he opened his email today by bizarrely comparing the justices of Washington’s Supreme Court to characters from George Orwell’s novella Animal Farm:

For many years, this supreme court has inflated its governmental importance, trying to establish itself as a superior branch of government. In the novel “Animal Farm,” the governing pigs initially painted the words “All pigs are equal” on the side of the barn.

But as time went on and they accrued more power, they changed it to “Some pigs are more equal than others.” That’s exactly what these 9 judges want everyone to think. That they are superior to the legislative branch, that they are superior to the executive branch. That some branches of government are more equal than others.

I found it hard to stop chuckling after reading this. Eyman is so lazy and so accustomed to fabricating that he can’t even be bothered to accurately summarize or quote from a classic, easy to read novella like Animal Farm.

For those who don’t know: Animal Farm (which Orwell initially subtitled “A Fairy Story”), is an allegory satirizing the formation and early years of the Soviet Union, sparked by the Russian Revolution of 1917. The setting is a farm in England, introduced as the Manor Farm at the beginning of the novella.

(Warning: spoilers lie ahead. Pause here or skip the next few paragraphs if you want to read the novella without knowing the plot beforehand.)

The farm becomes Animal Farm after its human owner Jones and his farmhands are sent packing by the animals under their care — who they’d been neglecting — in a spontaneous uprising. After this triumph, the animals begin attempting to govern themselves, with the farm’s pigs (who, unbeknownst to the other animals, had taught themselves to read and write) as the self-appointed leaders.

The pigs establish a codex for the farm called the Seven Commandments, which is based on “Animalism”, an allegory of Communism. In Chapter 2, they paint the Seven Commandments on the side of the farm’s barn:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

It is the last commandment that Eyman quoted — inaccurately — in his email. The commandments refer to animals, not pigs, though they were painted on the side of the barn wall by one of the pigs. If you’ve read the novella, then you appreciate the importance of the distinction I just made, because the pigs in the novella are the characters responsible for exploiting the other animals.

As the novella progresses, the two leading pigs (recognized as “the cleverest of the animals”) become rivals, and one is forced into exile by the other, who assumes dictatorial powers. By the end, the remaining pigs and their autocratic chief have become as bad as the human owner they displaced — Jones — if not worse, and the Seven Commandments have been obliterated and replaced with this:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

If Tim Eyman had any integrity, he’d care about getting details like his quotations right… but he doesn’t, so his emails are often riddled with information that is simply in error. And sadly, over the years, there have been many times where Eyman’s fabrications have been repeated in the press due to not having been fact-checked.

I happen to have personally met most of the justices currently serving on Washington’s Supreme Court. From talking to them and reading their opinions, I know how seriously they take their oaths of office. The Court’s duty is to uphold our Constitution, and that is what it has been trying to do in the McCleary case. It is the Legislature that is collectively refusing to follow Article IX of our Constitution by amply providing for the education of Washington’s youth.

If the Legislature would simply comply with the Court’s orders, there would be no risk of a constitutional crisis. But the Legislature has not been willing to do so. Lawmakers have been dragging their feet for years, and as a result, our kids aren’t getting the education the Constitution says they’re supposed to get.

That’s wrong. The Legislature’s culture of failure is unacceptable. That’s why the Court heard oral arguments yesterday over possible next steps in the case.

The Court’s nine justices (by the way, Tim, they’re called justices) are supposed to be sticklers for the Constitution. Our system of government was designed with checks and balances: each branch has a role to play in holding the others accountable. The Court is holding the Legislature accountable for its failures — or trying to at least. Some members (ahem, Matt Manweller) clearly resent this.

As the Court’s nine justices are popularly elected from across the entire state, Manweller, Eyman, and the right wing are seeking to defeat the three incumbents who are up this year with their own slate of candidates. Eyman has been using his email list to aggressively promote this slate of challengers.

In the Top Two election, only one of the three Supreme Court contests appeared on the ballot because the others drew only two candidates. That position (Position #5) is currently held by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, who Eyman despises.

Despite having hundreds of thousands of dollars spent against her (with much of that money supplied by Kenneth Fisher, one of Eyman’s wealthy benefactors), Madsen cruised to a first place finish with a whopping 63.9% of the vote.

Undeterred by Madsen’s landslide victory and the massive failure of the large independent expenditure against her, Eyman has continued to promote the right wing’s preferred slate through a series of email missives while urging his followers to pepper the justices with emails telling them how awful they are.

“If you think these judges have gone completely rogue, then we want everyone — AND WE MEAN EVERYONE — to send them an email and tell them what you think.  Send them a message in your own words.  But send them something right away, right now,” Eyman exhorted in his email today. (Emphasis is his).

It is ironic that Eyman would compare our state’s Supreme Court justices to the pigs from Animal Farm when it is he and his wealthy benefactors who are most like the pigs. If you’ve read Animal Farm, then you know that the pigs in the novella are selfish wealth hoarders — not unlike Eyman’s wealthy benefactors. Consider this excerpt from Chapter 3 of the novella [spoiler alert!]:

The early apples were now ripening, and the grass of the orchard was littered with windfalls. The animals had assumed as a matter of course that these would be shared out equally; one day, however, the order went forth that all the windfalls were to be collected and brought to the harness-room for the use of the pigs. At this some of the other animals murmured, but it was no use. All the pigs were in full agreement on this point, even Snowball and Napoleon. Squealer was sent to make the necessary explanations to the others.

Here I will pause and note that Squealer — who is the Animal Farm character that Eyman most resembles — serves as the spokespig for the other pigs.

“Comrades!” he cried. “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Yes, Jones would come back! Surely, comrades,” cried Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail, “surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?”

Now if there was one thing that the animals were completely certain of, it was that they did not want Jones back. When it was put to them in this light, they had no more to say. The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious. So it was agreed without further argument that the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone.

Tax cuts for the rich have been justified by right wing Republicans over and over again in a similar condescending fashion. The false, fear-based arguments against taxation that get made on Fox Noise Channel and Fox Business are not so unlike the arguments Squealer makes to the other animals on behalf of the pigs:

We rich people and the even more massively rich people we serve as mouthpieces for on TV are job creators. The whole management and organization of this country’s economy depends on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we need these tax cuts. Do you know what would happen if our taxes went up? Our state and country would lose jobs! Yes, jobs would be lost! Surely there is none among you who wants to lose jobs?

In reality, tax cuts for the wealthy and other tenets of right wing economics lead to mass inequality, stagnation, and decline. Not jobs. Not prosperity.

To put it another way: trickle down doesn’t.

But when we pool our resources according to ability to pay, we can achieve great things together. We can afford quality public schools, colleges, and universities, a robust mass transit system, safe bridges, parks and pools to recreate in, first rate police, fire, and emergency medical services, and much more. The availability of excellent public services is crucial to establishing the best business climate. Taxes can be thought of as dues we pay to keep our communities healthy and vibrant.

Sadly, some people don’t want to pay their dues and pay it forward so the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs can prosper. Kenneth Fisher, Clyde Holland, Faye Garneau, and other Eyman benefactors are selfish wealth hoarders. They have chosen to fund Eyman in the past because Eyman has a gift for deceiving people into voting for schemes that enrich the few at the expense of the many.

Eyman is their Squealer — or at least he used to be. See, two can play at this game. Eyman has been funnelling a lot of the money given by the aforementioned benefactors into his own pockets and failing to properly report his activities to the public as the law requires. That’s landed him in a lot of legal trouble.

Maybe it’s this trouble that has caused the benefactors to turn off the money spigot. Or maybe they’ve realized Eyman is really, really bad at writing initiatives that stand up to scrutiny, and they don’t want to fund another unconstitutional initiative.

Whatever their reasons for shutting off the spigot, Eyman’s initiative factory is presently idle. Eyman’s not on the 2016 ballot and doesn’t have the funds necessary to buy his way onto the 2017 ballot (at least not yet, anyway). That’s left him with a lot of free time. And so Eyman has been reduced to a pundit with an email list, taking regular potshots at his favorite targets within the state… at least when he’s not admiring the courage of Donald Trump.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson proposes legislation to ban sale of assault weapons

Vowing to protect lives and strengthen the state’s many diverse communities, Washington’s chief legal officer announced today he will be proposing legislation to ban the sale of assault weaponry — in other words, guns designed for the sole purpose of killing large numbers of human beings.

The agency request legislation, which already has the support of lawmakers like Senators David Frockt and Kevin Ranker, will have two key provisions:

  • A ban on semiautomatic weapons with military-style features that render them more easily concealable or more deadly; and
  • A limit on magazine capacity — currently unlimited under Washington law — to a maximum of 10 rounds of ammunition.

“The recent tragedy in Mukilteo drives home the need to act with urgency to end the availability of weapons designed with only one purpose — to kill people,” Ferguson said in a statement. “I have a duty to protect the public, as well as uphold the Constitution. My proposal will ban some of the deadliest weapons, while respecting the Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

Ferguson’s office is still working on the specific wording of the legislation, and an initial bill draft is expected to be completed by sometime in December.

NPI strongly believes that military grade weapons have no place in our communities or on our streets, and we applaud AG Ferguson for stepping forward to propose this legislation and for committing to advocating for it until it becomes law.

Hardware designed for military use should not be sold or be available to civilians, period, and that includes AR-15 style semiautomatic long guns. Responsible gun enthusiasts understand that such weapons have no legitimate purpose other than killing large numbers of humans. They are not needed for hunting or self-defense. There’s no reason they should be available to civilians.

Sadly, extremist outfits like the National Rifle Association are opposed to gun sense measures like what Ferguson is proposing because they wrongly believe that our country should be as weaponized and trigger-happy as possible. They have claimed the text of the Second Amendment supports their position, but it does not.

From listening to the NRA’s talking heads on TV and radio, you might be led to believe that the language of the Second Amendment is the following:

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

But actually, it is this:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

If you look at all the drafts of the Second Amendment — which James Madison was primarily responsible for — you’ll see the words “well regulated militia” over and over again. It was an essential element in all the drafts.

We agree with Justice John Paul Stevens: a proper interpretation of the Second Amendment takes into account its first thirteen words:

When each word in the text is given full effect, the Amendment is most naturally read to secure to the people a right to use and possess arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. So far as appears, no more than that was contemplated by its drafters or is encompassed within its terms. Even if the meaning of the text were genuinely susceptible to more than one interpretation, the burden would remain on those advocating a departure from the purpose identified in the preamble and from settled law to come forward with persuasive new arguments or evidence.

Those who claim the language of the Second Amendment bars the federal government or any state government from passing gun safety laws are wrong: it does not. Guns making taking a life easy, even from a distance. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can all be snuffed out with a single shot.

It is therefore imperative that we as a society insist and demand that any civilian who wishes to buy firearms pass a background check, understand how to secure their weapon, and be prohibited from owning weapons designed for military use.

Attorney General Ferguson’s legislation only limits magazine capacity and bans the sale of deadly assault weapons in our state. It doesn’t require those who own such weapons already to register them, or give them up.

Nevertheless, Ferguson’s bill will make our communities much safer than they are today. We strongly support the legislation and will lobby for its passage.

POSTSCRIPT: KING5 has visuals from Ferguson’s press conference.

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