NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, February 13th, 2023

Seattle Times endorses NPI’s legislation to repeal statewide “advisory votes”

Today, the Seat­tle Times pub­lished an excel­lent edi­to­r­i­al endors­ing NPI’s 2023 leg­is­la­tion to repeal statewide “advi­so­ry votes,” which just passed out of the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate last week with bipar­ti­san sup­port and has now arrived in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for fur­ther consideration.

Titled “Boot con­fus­ing advi­so­ry votes from WA bal­lots,” this is a fresh con­tender for our team’s favorite Seat­tle Times edi­to­r­i­al. It’s well writ­ten, has com­pelling open­ing and con­clud­ing pas­sages, and the log­ic that holds it togeth­er is sound.

“If Wash­ing­ton law­mak­ers can do any­thing to make the vot­ing process eas­i­er and pos­si­bly increase vot­er par­tic­i­pa­tion, they should,” the edi­to­r­i­al begins.

“The state Leg­is­la­ture can end the mad­ness of advi­so­ry votes by approv­ing House Bill 1158, or its com­pan­ion Sen­ate Bill 5082, which passed out of the Sen­ate on Wednes­day,” a sub­se­quent pas­sage explains.

The whole edi­to­r­i­al — a brief and enjoy­able read — is worth your time.

With this excel­lent and thought­ful com­men­tary, the Times has now joined The Her­ald of Everett, the Wal­la Wal­la Union Bul­letin, and The Columbian in call­ing for “advi­so­ry votes” to be per­ma­nent­ly scrapped by the Leg­is­la­ture. The Her­ald even restat­ed its posi­tion recent­ly, to empha­size to read­ers and law­mak­ers that this leg­is­la­tion needs to be pri­or­i­tized in the 2023 leg­isla­tive session.

Here are a few excerpts from those oth­er edi­to­ri­als sup­port­ing our bill:

“Mean­while, the impo­tent advi­so­ry votes help to clut­ter the bal­lot and cost tax­pay­ers. This year’s advi­so­ry votes are the only statewide items in front of vot­ers, requir­ing a state Vot­ers’ Pam­phlet that oth­er­wise would be unnec­es­sary. In oth­er words, Wash­ing­ton can do bet­ter.” — “In Our View: Advi­so­ry votes waste tax­pay­er mon­ey” (The Columbian, pub­lished Octo­ber 8th, 2021)

“Unlike a legit­i­mate advi­so­ry vote — one that’s tak­en pri­or to the action of a gov­ern­ment body — the tax “advi­so­ry” votes don’t require any action by state law­mak­ers and don’t inform them pri­or to a par­tic­u­lar vote; they’re lit­tle more than a pub­lic opin­ion poll. And they are no bet­ter than the least accu­rate of polls, a ‘push poll,’ writ­ten to prod a respon­dent to a par­tic­u­lar position.”

– “Ballot’s ‘push polls’ on tax­es don’t advise any­one” (The Her­ald of Everett, pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 11th, 2020)

“The cost of adding the advi­so­ry votes to the bal­lot does not jus­ti­fy con­tin­u­ing this man­date. Andrew Vil­leneuve, founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, said his orga­ni­za­tion looked at the cost of the 2017 elec­tion, find­ing Wal­la Wal­la Coun­ty billed the state $11,438.52 for costs asso­ci­at­ed with the advi­so­ry votes. When the cost incurred by the oth­er 38 coun­ties are cal­cu­lat­ed, it’s clear tax­pay­ers would save by elim­i­nat­ing the advi­so­ry votes. The Leg­is­la­ture has the pow­er to take that action, and should do so.” — “It’s time to end non-bind­ing tax advi­so­ry votes” (Wal­la Wal­la Union Bul­letin, pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 9th, 2020)

As these edi­to­r­i­al boards all rec­og­nize, “advi­so­ry votes” are a misnomer.

Despite their name, they are nei­ther advi­so­ry nor votes, owing to hav­ing been cre­at­ed by Tim Eyman to fur­ther his agen­da of under­min­ing pub­lic con­fi­dence in our elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives and acti­vate a cyn­i­cal, unhealthy state of mind.

Our team has been heart­ened to see sup­port for this wor­thy elec­toral reform leg­is­la­tion increase with each sub­se­quent session.

In addi­tion to our state’s major news­pa­pers, the Wash­ing­ton Asso­ci­a­tion of Coun­ty Audi­tors, the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Jus­tice Coali­tion, and Bal­ance Our Tax Code have all endorsed this leg­is­la­tion, along with our friends at the Eco­nom­ic Oppor­tu­ni­ty Insti­tute, the League of Women Vot­ers, Asian Coun­sel­ing and Refer­ral Ser­vice, Fix Democ­ra­cy First, Major­i­tyRules, and many oth­er organizations.

In the House, one third of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus has signed on to SB 5082’s com­pan­ion bill, includ­ing three key mem­bers of leadership.

We’re look­ing for­ward to work­ing with our state rep­re­sen­ta­tives to bring this bill home and get it to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s desk so it can be signed into law.

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  1. […] I tes­ti­fied for the bill at the hear­ing along with NPI Leg­isla­tive Direc­tor Kathy Saka­hara. My tes­ti­mo­ny focused on the grow­ing momen­tum for the bill and the sup­port we’ve received from edi­to­r­i­al boards, includ­ing The Seat­tle Times. […]

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