Tax Amazon Calls for Lawmakers to Modernize Signature Gathering Process for Initiatives

Comments

1

"Direct democracy?" Give me a break. Paid signature-gathering should be illegal. Washington's initiative process was long ago ruined by Big Money. I hope COVID-19 kills it for good.

2

The basic structure of our initiative process was laid down in the late 1800s. The telephone hadn't been invented yet, and the horse and buggy was our best transit option.

So, yes, the initiative process could use some updating for the 21st century. On the other hand, I don't think the legislature should slam through a quick fix without thinking about the consequences just because we're in the middle of a pandemic. As Doug @1 points out, paid signature gathering has made something of a sham of any claim of grass roots democracy. If you make it too easy to gather online petitions, you'd get all kinds of crazy initiatives on the ballot from every nut-job with an axe to grind. Getting an initiative on the ballot shouldn't be easy. It should have significant public support. That's the point of the signature gathering requirement. So while the state should update the requirement for the modern age, they still need to make it sufficiently difficult so as to self-screen the more ridiculous ballot initiatives.

3

Without the hat
those pjs don't work.

4

@2 Seems like making it "more difficult" will have the effect of making the system inaccessible to more people. The only way to really know what has "significant public support" is to vote on it - nut-job is in the eye of the beholder.

The system is too easily hijacked by concentrated special interests, that's for sure. But you can say the same thing about the legislature.

6

@4, "significant public support" was intentionally vague. You could certainly argue over how much support is enough to get it on the ballot. I'm not even certain how much that should be myself. But the signature gathering method currently used is in fact a filtering method. It is by design intended to make it more difficult to get an initiative on the ballot.

For example, in 2018, there were 117 proposed ballot initiatives. Only 5 made it on to the ballot. I'm pretty sure you would not have wanted to vote on all 117 of them. Nobody would. That's why we use representative government for the most part. Most voters can't be bothered to properly educate themselves on the small handful that do make it onto the ballot. The signature gathering process is what cuts it down from 117 to a manageable number.

Now, you could argue whether the signature gathering process is the best mechanism to filter 117 initiatives down to 5, or whether some other mechanism might be better or fairer or whatever. I'm not saying that the signature gathering process is the best mechanism to achieve that. But I am very glad there is SOME filtering mechanism.

I guess my point is that if we allowed "electronic signatures" of some sort, that could make it easier to get initiatives on the ballot, especially during a pandemic, but there could be significant unintended consequences. If you make it TOO easy—like say you spam email 7 million+ Washington residents, and all they have to do is click a button to get their signature on an initiative—you could end up with 50 or 100 initiatives on the ballot in November. Most of them would be ridiculous, and would get voted down, but no voter wants to wade through all that shit. The voter pamphlets would be as thick as a novel. The ballot would be six pages long.

7

Fuck Sawant and her tax. When she sells her house, donates the money to the homeless and moves into Workers Collective Dormitory Number 12, I might pay attention.

8

@7:

Because, being the good, compassionate, caring human you are - that's what YOU'RE planning to do, amiright?

10

@8 Not at all. I live in my splendid little apartment paid for with capitalist dollars I earned in the marketplace of ideas. I'm not a hypocrite like Sawant.

11

It’s sad to see a bunch of liberals trying to fix our repressive tax system by:
1. Fundraising off an unconstitutional income tax that literally won’t ever happen. Ever.
2. Taxing hiring for “big business” like Dicks Burgers because they like Amazon meet the revenue of this targeted tax. Literally a tax per job? So you want to tell companies, “hey! We are gonna charge you more, the more people you hire!” So they hire more robots...
Amazon paid over $250 million in State and local taxes last year. They pay millions in property taxes for their $5 Billion HQ that pays for schools, bridges and healthcare.
Are they paying enough federal tax? No. But we can’t control that can we. Should we make up for that by kicking them out of our State?

12

This is a bad idea on its merits. Our initiative system is largely terrible and is dominated by money, even moreso than the legislature. Paid signature gatherers should be banned. But the people in favor of this also can't see the forest through the trees.

This would be a godsend for Tim Eyman. His problem over the past decade or so has been finding a sugar daddy to fund his campaigns, because he can't raise sufficient $ on his own. If digital signatures were allowed, you wouldn't have more left wing ballot measures qualify and be approved -- they'd be largely right wing. And the resulting policy outcomes would be awful. No thanks.

13

The qualifications for signing an initiative or Referenda are tied to those for voting: you need to be a registered voter, you need to sign a 'wet signature, and it needs to be submitted by a specified deadline.

If we're going to change the mechanism for one, we should at least be consistent and change them both... and until elections experts think we're ready for on-line voting, we shouldn't have on-line signature gathering.

14

What's disgusting about the word "wet"? Calm down, Rich Smith.