I appreciate your Aug. 20 editorial condemning Tim Eyman’s push polls (“advisory votes”) as a waste of time and money. The cost to the taxpayers actually goes beyond pages in the Voters’ Pamphlet statement: The “advisory votes” also raise the cost to the counties to print, mail and tabulate ballots.
In 2017 (the last comparable election cycle), our research at the Northwest Progressive Institute found that Walla Walla County billed the state of Washington $11,438.52 for costs associated with the “advisory votes.” That was the bill for just one of the state’s 39 counties in one year!
It is true that these measures are meaningless in a legal sense. Since they are not binding, no laws are being changed with anyone’s vote.
But that doesn’t make them pointless. They have a purpose, and it’s a bad one: To load up our ballots with anti-tax, anti-government propaganda.
The language and the format of every “advisory vote” is dictated by Tim Eyman’s Initiative 960, which narrowly passed in 2007. It’s codified as 29A.72.283. Eyman’s I-960 specifies that every “advisory vote” must contain phrases like “The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people...” and “... for government spending.” Each “advisory vote” then presents a false choice: “This tax increase should be.... Repealed [or] Maintained?”
Voters are never told that no matter how they vote, their vote won’t change anything. This is by design. The “advisory votes” are really push polls. They were never intended to measure public opinion.
Their actual purpose is to influence public opinion, like a telephone attack campaign masquerading as a survey. We’ve all gotten those.
Our team at the Northwest Progressive Institute has a bill to abolish Eyman’s push polls: Senate Bill 5224. It passed the Washington state Senate last session with bipartisan support. Sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer, it would do away with these malicious and wasteful push polls once and for all. The bill remains alive in the Senate and we are asking the Washington state House to take it up and pass it in 2020. We invite Washingtonians of all political views to join us in supporting this legislation.
We all ought to be able to agree that our ballots should be free of propaganda and advertising. The “advisory votes” are a textbook case of waste, fraud and abuse. Let’s end them with SB 5224!