Sign our letter in support of ballot measure reform!
Senate Bill 5297, the bill that supports ballot measure reform, has a hearing in the state Senate Government Operations committee on February 10. Sign on to our letter to the committee urging them to pass the bill.
To the state Senate Government Operations committee:
The initiative process was adopted in Washington State 99 years ago to allow citizens to directly propose new laws and vote on them to strengthen our democracy. Laws that govern the ballot measure process, however, have not kept up with the changes in how signatures are gathered.
Signature gathering has changed dramatically over the years, becoming an industry unto itself. In Washington alone, nearly $12.8 million has been paid out to signature gathering firms since 2002.
According to the national, nonpartisan Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, fraud and forgery from paid signature gatherers is on the rise. In Oregon, paid signature gatherers had regular meetings so that they could all forge signatures together. In Missouri, a paid signature gatherer was arrested when it was discovered that he was wanted in three states for signature fraud. Many signature gatherers only stay in one state long enough to collect their payout before moving on to the next one.
Currently, Washington’s ballot measures system cannot prevent these abuses. We have been labeled as one of the worst in the nation by the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center because our outdated initiative process has not kept up with standards of transparency, accountability, oversight and enforcement.
Our laws need updating to prevent fraud and ensure all paid signature gatherers are following the law.
SB 5297 would bring much needed accountability and transparency to our ballot measure process by:
* Prohibiting paid signatures convicted of fraud, felony, or ID theft from gathering signatures in Washington state for five years.
* Requiring the declaration on the back of each petition sheet be signed by a signature gatherer confirming all signatures were collected in accordance with state law.
In addition, SB 5297 updates ballot measure filing fees to mirror candidate filing fees.
This legislation protects the original intent of our constitutional founders by holding the initiative process accountable to the people. We ask that you support SB 5297.
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