Making Democracy Work
Improve access to the ballot, particularly for those previously convicted of a felony, modernize elections to allow for better representation and more flexibility, facilitate better understanding of initiatives.
News This Week—Citizens’ Initiative Review bill, Democracy Lobby Week
(Interested in the 2020 Session Recap? Click Here)
2021 Democracy Lobby Week 2/22-2/26
Citizens’ Initiative Review
Our Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) bill has been introduced! It is SB 5250. CIRs provide invaluable, objective voter information on initiatives. Citizens’ Initiative Reviews have been shown to deliver accurate, clear, and trustworthy information to voters in the form of objective and factual evaluations of ballot initiatives—both positive and negative impacts.
Bills Needing Action This Week, Click on Bill # to see additional information.
Voting Rights Restoration
ACTION ALERT: Please contact both your Representatives and urge passage of this bill.
Eliminating Advisory Votes
ACTION ALERT: Please sign in as Pro on this bill. Go the Senate Remote Testimony page, select State Government and Elections, 1/20 8:00 a.m., SB 5182, and “I would like my position noted for the legislative record” and sign in Pro. Please consider testifying on your own behalf.
Other Bills the League Supports, Click on Bill # to see additional information.
Bills We Are Watching
Ranked Choice Voting
Bills We Oppose
Requiring watermarks on mail-in ballots
Election of the governor by county. Washington State Legislature
Additional information on bills we support Click on Bill # to summary page on legislative website
SB 5250 Citizen's Initiative Review The League envisions a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge, and the confidence to participate in democracy. We believe in empowering voters and know that knowledge is power. Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) is emerging as a formidable tool to providing citizenry to become confident, informed voters.
CIRs provide invaluable, objective voter information on initiatives. While ballot measures in Washington State drive some of the largest policy decisions, voters often find them too complicated to understand. That can lead to confusion and frustration. This is compounded by well-funded campaigns flooding voters with biased messaging and misinformation. Citizens’ Initiative Reviews have been shown to deliver accurate, clear, and trustworthy information to voters in the form of objective and factual evaluations of ballot initiatives—both positive and negative impacts. Research has shown that there is a significant impact on support for an initiative that has non-obvious consequences as a result of people reading a CIR.
The bill will be introduced this year by Senator Sam Hunt of Olympia. Senator Hunt is also chair of the Senate State Government and Election Committee. We expect the bill to be referred to that committee so we are confident it will be heard. This will be a major priority for our democracy advocacy this year and we'd love to have many people involved. We're looking to put together a tool kit and do massive public education. If helping get CIR in Washington is something you'd like to help with, please reach out to Kathy Sakahara at the email address above.
To learn more about CIR visit Citizens’ Initiative Review Research Project for a wealth of information and publications regarding the need for, effectiveness and history of, and best practices for CIRs, and Healthy Democracy, an early leader in the Citizens’ Initiative Review process.
HB1078/SB 5086 Voting Rights Restoration: This bill will strengthen our democracy, increase public safety and promote racial justice by automatically restoring the right to vote for every citizen living in the community. When passed, this bill would bring 18,000 voters back into our democracy. Black, Indigenous, and other people of color are overrepresented in Washington prisons thanks to decades of racial and economic injustice. Returning citizens can have their right to voted denied if they are unable to pay their legal financial obligations (LFOs). This presents an additional obstacle to voting for persons with low income.
Washington’s current law has caused confusion among everyone from election officials to voter registration volunteers to prospective voters themselves about who is eligible to vote. If every citizen living in the community can vote, officials have a bright line rule to apply, making it easier to determine who is eligible to vote.
Learn more at Washington State Voting Rights Restoration Coalition.
SB 5182 Eliminating advisory votes These are questions that appear on the ballot regarding state expenditures that have already passed. Although their wording (Repealed | Maintained) suggests that they are binding referenda, the results do not have any impact. They add significantly to the costs of elections and voters are not informed about them because reliable information is virtually impossible to find. Having votes that do not count for anything is inconsistent with League principles.
SB 5015 Protecting ballots: The 2020 election season brought about new attempts to deceive and confuse voters. We saw reports of receptacles that appeared to be official drop boxes but in fact were not. This bill would make this practice a gross misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine of up to $5000.
How You Can Be Involved
In addition to contacting your legislator, you can join the Democracy Team to apply your knowledge and skills and build on them. For the new Citizen Initiative Review legislation, we will need help with research, social media and building public knowledge and support.