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.