King County Elections Director Julie Wise.
King County Elections Director Julie Wise. Courtesy Julie Wise

Let’s start by agreeing that advisory votes are nonsense. Every November they appear on your ballot and ask you how you feel about various taxes the legislature passed the previous spring. It’s a survey. Worse yet, it’s a survey with no clear use for the data.

I’m an election administrator. I take voting very seriously and spend every day working to make it easier for people to have a voice on important issues. Advisory votes, however, are not that. In fact, not only are they silly, they are downright confusing. Each fall, King County Elections gets countless calls from voters wondering what these advisory votes mean. Are my taxes going up? What’s an “engrossed substitute house bill”? Ultimately, we erode the public’s trust when we ask people to vote on something they have no impact on whatsoever.

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Advisory votes are also terrible for practical reasons. They take up valuable ballot real estate. You may have noticed that they appear on your ballot before congressional races, before statewide races like Governor and Attorney General, and even before the President of the United States. Why are we answering a poll before selecting our state and federal representatives? It makes very little sense.

The good news is that Senator Patty Kuderer has sponsored a bill this legislative session to eliminate advisory votes. The Senate Committee on State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections advanced SB 5224 to the Senate Rules Committee earlier this month. I hope we can all encourage our state legislators to pass this bill and make filling out our ballot a little less annoying. And if we really feel like we need to take a survey about past legislative actions, I have a Survey Monkey account that I’m happy to queue-up.

Julie Wise was elected as the King County Elections Director in November 2015 and will serve during the 2016-2019 term. Wise is a Washington State certified Election Administrator and is a nationally Certified Election Registration Administrator. She has served King County voters for more than 15 years.