In the 2018 General Election, Washington state voters were asked whether they believe a new tax on oil shipped to Washington to be refined should be repealed or maintained.
What was the result?
Don’t know? You are not alone. Hardly anybody bothers to look at results of the advisory votes on new or increased taxes and fees. Why? It doesn’t matter. State lawmakers barely give the results a glance because there is zero political backlash one way or the other.
This mandatory advisory vote is a waste of voters’ time and taxpayers’ money.
The mandate for advisory ballots was created through Initiative 960. It was sold as a way to reduce taxes, but hasn’t done anything but increase anxiety and election costs.
Voters look at their ballot, see the advisory vote, and stress over informing themselves to vote to repeal or maintain. To this point, 19 of these advisory votes have been put on the ballot, including the oil tax in 2018.
But this year’s ballot is going to be overflowing with advisory questions. A full dozen will be on the November General Election ballot. It is estimated putting information about the meaningless advisory votes will take up 24 pages and cost up to $500,000.
Our advice is to ignore them. They are meaningless.
Voters should be focused on the races for City Council and Port Commission as well as Referendum 88, a ballot measure that if approved will actually change the law.
Following the election, the Legislature needs to end this pointless and expensive exercise.
Whether one votes to repeal or maintain, that tax isn’t going anywhere. It’s been legally approved by the people you elected to represent your in the state Legislature.
Most of the taxes and fees that are subject to the advisory vote were approved with strong support or a result of compromise.
While the advisory votes do no good, they might be doing some harm. Some voters take the time to consider the proposals, only to see their elected officials didn’t even notice. This further fuels frustration and cynicism in government.
We elect people to the Legislature (or Congress or our local city councils and county commissions) to represent us. We, as a society, empower our representatives to consider decisions carefully and vote in a way they believe is best for the people who elected them.
We should allow them to do the job we elected them to do, not constantly second-guess them with nonsensical advisory votes.
If voters don’t like what their representatives or senators are doing, vote to oust them from office. That’s why we have elections — to vote on things that actually matter. Advisory votes are not in that category.
And if you have been wondering what the results were of the 2018 advisory vote, it was 53.53 percent to repeal and 46.47 to maintain. The result changed nothin’.