Seems every November in Washington state, Tim Eyman of the aptly named Voters Want More Choices has an initiative on the ballot thatâ€™s dramatically outspent by the powerful interests who dominate the stateâ€™s legislature.
And yet his initiative still wins.
In recent years, each January, as the legislature convenes, here come bills to â€œreformâ€ the initiative process. Reform meaning kill.
This yearâ€™s bills seek to force citizens collecting petitions to register with the government and be licensed. Forget the fact that requiring a license to use oneâ€™s First Amendment rights is about as American as Joseph Stalin.
One bill makes sponsors of initiatives liable for any mistakes made by those petitioning. Better to scare away the citizen leaders. Mostly, the goal is to invalidate perfectly valid voter signatures on some technicality committed by the person circulating the measure.
The excuse for these bills, weâ€™re told, is to fight fraud. But Washingtonâ€™s Secretary of State, in response to a public records request, disclosed they â€œhave no instances of verified forgeries or fraud in the signature gathering process for initiatives in those years (1999 through 2006).â€ Thatâ€™s over eight million signatures with zero instances of fraud.
The real reason? The politicians and special interests that live off of our hard work wonâ€™t come out and say it, of course, but they figure that if they canâ€™t win a vote of the people, then theyâ€™ll find a way to stop the people from voting at all.
Thatâ€™s just wrong. Itâ€™s a fraud.
This is Common Sense. Iâ€™m Paul Jacob.