Thanks to the recent success of NPI’s legislation to clean up Evergreen State ballots and remove a barrier to voting, Washington voters won’t be seeing any anti-tax propaganda from former initiative promoter Tim Eyman at or near the top of their general election ballots when they go to vote this year.
But they will see in a page in the voter’s pamphlet alerting them to the existence of the new fiscal dashboard created by the Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program (LEAP) and the Office of Financial Management.
Titled Budgeting For Washington’s Future, this page in the voter’s pamphlet offers a quick response code, URL, and phone number to help voters reach the dashboard. It also contains a short summary of each of the state’s three regularly adopted budgets, to help demystify the state’s finances for voters.
Take a look:Budgeting for Washington’s Future page in the 2023 voter’s pamphlet
As you can see, the page contains only neutrally worded, factual information. That is by design. When we were developing our bill to get rid of Eyman’s “advisory votes” (which were really push polls), we made a conscious choice to do more than just get rid of something bad — we wanted to create something useful as a replacement for “advisory votes” — something that could help voters.
So that’s why Senate Bill 5082, sponsored by our champions Senator Patty Kuderer and Representative Amy Walen, provided for the creation of not just the aforementioned fiscal dashboard, but this Budgeting For Washington’s Future page in the voter’s pamphlet. For the fiscal dashboard to be a useful resource, Washington voters need to know about it and know how to find it.
That’s why it’s now a required element of the state-level voter’s pamphlet.
The idea to provide a one page infosheet for the dashboard with a QR code was suggested by Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and his staff, and we embraced that idea for the final version of the legislation, now codified as RCW 29A.32.031 (8):
The voters’ pamphlet published or distributed under RCW 29A.32.010 must contain:
(8) A page providing information about how to access the internet presentation of the information created in RCW 44.48.160 about the state budgets, including a uniform resource locator, a quick response code, and a phone number for the legislative information center. The uniform resource locator and quick response codes will lead the voter to the internet information required in RCW 44.48.160;
It’s great to see our legislation now fully implemented. This was the final piece!
We know from our public opinion research that the voter’s pamphlet is far and away the most important and most trusted source of information for voters at election time. It’s therefore an ideal vehicle for pointing voters to the fiscal dashboard. The ballot itself is not an appropriate place for advertising or announcements — it’s the sacred space where we make the important, consequential decisions about who represents us and what laws we should have.
It took half a decade to get Senate Bill 5082 from the drawing board to Governor Inslee’s desk for signature, but we were persistent… and persistence can really pay off! If you appreciate our research and advocacy for better ballots and electoral justice in the Pacific Northwest, we invite you to support the work of the Northwest Progressive Institute. Make a donation here (all credit card fees will be covered by our processor!) or sign up to give annually or monthly.