April 20th, 2023
NPI thanks Governor Inslee for signing SB 5082 into law
At a ceremony today on the Capitol Campus, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law the Northwest Progressive Institute’s legislation to make it easier to vote in Washington State by replacing the anti-tax messages known as “advisory votes” with an online primer on the state’s finances that is accurate and truthful.
Championed by Senator Patty Kuderer and Representative Amy Walen (both D-48th District: Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond), SB 5082 will liberate our ballots from what are really push polls… fake ballot measures created by Tim Eyman that interrupt the act of voting, saving taxpayers millions of dollars every year in ballot design, printing, and tabulation costs.
Approved by the Washington State Senate in February and then by the House of Representatives earlier this month, the bill is set to take effect ninety days after session adjournment this Sunday, in time for the November general election.
That means voters won’t be seeing any more Eyman push polls on their ballots in future general elections. Election workers, activists, and journalists will be spared from having to constantly explain what they are to confused and upset voters.
“NPI thanks Governor Jay Inslee for signing this much-needed voting justice legislation. The ballot is a sacred space. It’s where we make the critical decisions about who represents us and what laws we should have,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve. Villeneuve and NPI legislative director Kathy Sakahara joined the prime sponsors and committee chairs for the bill signing with Governor Inslee.
“The ballot is not an appropriate place for polling, advertising, or campaign-style messaging. To encourage participation and maximize voter turnout, ballots need to be as simple as possible — free of anything that is not a candidate election, a real ballot measure, or accompanying instructions for how to vote. That’s why our legislation does away with what Tim Eyman calls ‘advisory votes,’ but which are really push polls, and replaces them with useful information that can help Washingtonians better understand the fiscal decisions their elected representatives have made on their behalf.”
What voters in King County had to say about “advisory votes” when NPI asked them to comment in a scientific survey last autumn
In an October-November 2022 survey conducted countywide in King County for NPI by Change Research with over seven hundred participants, likely voters were shown a graphic extracted from a PDF sample ballot showing the 2022 set of “advisory votes” (with no markings or annotations) alongside a question that presented arguments for keeping them (from Tim Eyman) and arguments for repealing them (from NPI).
Voters overwhelmingly backed repeal, with around three out of five voters expressing support for legislation to do away with “advisory votes.”
Here is a diverse sampling of the follow-up comments that we received from King County voters after they answered the question about whether “advisory votes” should be kept or repealed:
“I have multiple degrees and still struggle with the wording. I think many people don’t go and research each one… they just do their best. I support saving taxpayer money on the ballots and writing a full, fifth grade level explanation in the voter pamphlet.”
– Female voter between the ages of 18 and 34
“They literally do nothing. They’re a public opinion survey that is thrown in the trash afterwards. Voting to repeal doesn’t actually repeal and voting to approve is basically a rubber stamp. These advisory votes are pointless and wasteful.”
– Male voter between the ages of 18 and 34
“I recall reading those descriptions and thinking that they sounded incredibly biased. If we voted for the person who came up with those policies, it wasn’t truly ‘against the will of the people.’”
– Male voter between the ages of 35 to 49
“I’ve previously voted incorrectly based on the misleading wording of the advisory votes. I’ve not made the mistake since, but how many other voters have also made these mistakes?”
– Female voter between the ages of 35 to 49
“If we do not trust our state representatives with our money, we should not vote them into office. Advisory votes are a waste of paper asking folks to understand complex issues we are paying our representatives to understand.”
– Female voter between the ages of 50 and 64
“They’re a waste of ballot space and because of prejudicial wording they don’t give legislators any useful feedback.”
– Male voter between the ages of 50 and 64
“Advisory votes are just a meaningless gesture to undermine the legislature’s essential role of raising and dispensing revenue.”
– Male voter aged sixty-five or older
“I frequently find them confusing and lacking enough background information to feel comfortable with my decision.”
– Female voter aged sixty-five or older
NPI’s updated policy brief is an excellent resource for anyone planning to write about SB 5082 and today’s bill signing. It explains the principles underpinning the bill and the data that supports its passage.