Category Archives: Election Postmortem

With election results certified, the failure of Tim Eyman’s I-517 sets a new record

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Today, elections officials from Washington State’s thirty-nine counties certified the results of the 2013 general election. The final results show that Tim Eyman’s I-517, one of two statewide initiatives on the ballot, was defeated with 62.71% of the vote, which is the biggest-ever defeat of a Tim Eyman initiative, percentage-wise.

The old record of 61.54% was held by the No on I-892 campaign, which opposed Eyman’s 2004 scheme to put electronic slot machines in every neighborhood of the state and use the increased tax revenue to lower property taxes.

I-892 was overwhelmingly defeated by voters.

Although 2013 was a low turnout election, more than one million Washingtonians voted to reject I-517.

In King County, the no vote climbed above 70% as counting went on, and it nearly reached 72% by the time most ballots had been tabulated. The No campaign, which NPI’s Permanent Defense worked to help organize, won with a majority or supermajority of the vote in all of the state’s key swing counties, including Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Whatcom, Clark, Thurston, and Spokane.

“In overwhelmingly rejecting I-517, the people of Washington have reaffirmed that the purpose of the Seventh Amendment to our state Constitution was to create an initiative process, not an initiative business,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve.

“Proponents of I-517, including Tim Eyman and Eddie Agazarm, claimed during the campaign that I-517 was about making it easier for grassroots groups to get on the ballot. But in reality, they wrote and promoted I-517 to help themselves. They profit from qualifying initiatives, and they were looking to make their business even more lucrative with I-517. Thankfully, they failed.”

Tim Eyman and Eddie Agazarm have each previously admitted that they love making money from initiatives and want to make even more.

  • On February 3rd, 2002, Tim Eyman called up David Ammons of the Associated Press and confessed to having taken more than $150,000 of his own supporters’ donations for his personal use… and then lying about it for months. “This entire charade was set up so I could maintain a moral superiority over our opposition, so I could say our opponents make money from politics and I don’t,” Eyman told Ammons. Eyman admitted that going forward, he wanted to be well-paid:  “I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it.”
  • On April 18th, 2012, in an email to petition crew chiefs, Eyman associate Eddie Agazarm addressed complaints that petitioners were not being paid to collect signatures for I-517 by claiming that the inevitable passage of the initiative would make the signature gathering business more lucrative, and that this would be good for the very petition workers he exploits. He wrote:  “Somebody said that they’d have to be asking their people to work I-517 for free. That is definitely not the case as ALL petitioners and ALL managers will get paid very handsomely once I-517 passes. Think of the extra money we ALL make when we can work big turf ALL the time. Think of the money we can ALL make when we have petitioning year round. Think of all the extra petitions we can carry. Oh… we are gonna get paid for sure.”

The Public Disclosure Commission continues to actively investigate a complaint filed by Sherry Bockwinkel in August of 2012 that alleges numerous public disclosure laws were violated by Eyman, Agazarm and their associates during the I-517 signature drive, including failure to timely report contributions and expenditures.

NPI is monitoring the status of the investigation and urging the PDC to thoroughly investigate all of the allegations.

Statement on the defeat of Initiative 517

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Initial returns from Washington’s thirty-nine counties this evening indicate that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517 is headed down to a big defeat. NPI founder and NO on I-517 steering committee member Andrew Villeneuve thanked the people of Washington for overwhelmingly rejecting I-517, which would have made it easier for Eyman and his associates to manipulate our state’s initiative process and profit from it.

“Congratulations to the people of Washington for having the good sense and wisdom to reject Tim Eyman’s self-serving I-517,” said NPI founder and NO on I-517 steering committee member Andrew Villeneuve. “Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked hard to help voters understand that I-517 would have infringed upon our constitutionally guaranteed free speech rights and property rights, giving petitioners special privileges that no one else would have. We’re thankful that our efforts were successful. The rejection of I-517 is a victory for the initiative process over the initiative business.”

I-517 was opposed by a broad and diverse coalition that included progressive organizations like NPI, retailers like Safeway, Fred Meyer, REI, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart, as well as labor unions like the Carpenters and the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific and sports teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders. Opposition was also bipartisan: Former gubernatorial rivals Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna each took a stand opposing I-517, as did the Washington State Democratic Party, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State, former State Auditor Brian Sonntag, and former Secretaries of State Sam Reed and Ralph Munro.

The Yes on I-517 campaign remains under investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission for violating Washington State’s public disclosure laws during its signature gathering stage. The PDC acknowledged last month the investigation would not be completed ahead of the election.

NPI will be monitoring the status of the investigation in the weeks to come.

“Ending abuse of our state’s initiative and referendum process is a priority for us,” Villeneuve said. “We’re strong believers in the initiative and referendum and we want to return these instruments of direct democracy to their roots. It should be easier for grassroots activists to put together an initiative campaign, and harder for powerful interests to simply arrange a vote so they can purchase laws favorable to them.”

“In 2014 and beyond, we will working to end the exploitation of petition workers by outfits like Citizen Solutions that profit from qualifying initiatives while failing to comply with our worker protection laws,” Villeneuve added.

“We will also urge the Legislature to put a stop to the practice of ballot title shopping and require that petitions be more transparently laid out, so people have a clearer understanding of what they are being asked to sign.”

Tim Eyman’s Mukilteo neighbors voted down Initiative 1125, official results show

Election Postmortem

A couple of weeks ago, county canvassing boards across Washington State met to finalize the results of the November 2011 general election. The certification of the election means that we finally have official results that we can analyze and study.

(It doe take a long time to count all of the votes under our vote-by-mail system – which does not have a separate deadline for postmarking ballots, unlike Oregon – but the wait is well worth it, in our view).

Prior to the deadline for returning ballots (November 8th, at 8 PM) Initiative 1125 sponsor Tim Eyman was predicting a close outcome for his own measure, only a few weeks after having boasted that it was “leading in Seattle”. On October 25th, Eyman sent out an email update to his followers, requesting that they contact as many friends and family as possible to “push I-1125 in these final days”:

RE: We need your help to push I-1125 in these final days

Even though our internal polling among likely voters shows I-1125 ahead, we know it’s gonna be close. So we need your help to push I-1125 in these final days. Email your friends and encourage them to vote for I-1125. Call your relatives and prod them to support I-1125. Talk with your co-workers and encourage them to pass I-1125.

In the end, the election didn’t up being that close – and I-1125 did not end up ahead. More than 53% of Washingtonians voted against I-1125, including majorities in key swing counties like Snohomish, where Eyman lives. Eyman may well have expected to lose Snohomish County – it’s been consistently turning his measures down in recent years (with the exception of I-1053 last year) – but what about his own neighborhood?

If Eyman is walking his talk, shouldn’t he at least be winning on his home turf… even if he’s losing greater Snohomish County?

After all, selling initiatives is his full-time gig, and it stands to reason that nowhere is it easier for him to go door-to-door than in his own precinct.

We were curious to know the answer to this question. So we checked the official results, which are broken out at the precinct level. And, as it turns out, not only did Eyman lose his own precinct (Mukilteo 18) he lost it handily. More than 54% of his civic-minded neighbors gave I-1125 a thumbs down.

Amazingly, that’s a higher percentage than the cumulative vote against I-1125 in Snohomish County (51.66%) and statewide (53.21%).

I-1125 also failed in every other Mukilteo precinct except Mukilteo 15, where it passed. Here’s the breakdown for all of Mukilteo’s precincts:

Precinct Turnout Yes on I-1125 No on I-1125
Mukilteo 1 65.16% (686 voters registered, 447 voted) 45.41% (193 votes) 54.58% (232 votes)
Mukilteo 2 59.23% (753 voters registered, 446 voted) 44.94% (191 votes) 55.06% (234 votes)
Mukilteo 3 59.92% (474 voters registered, 284 voted) 48.51% (130 votes) 51.49% (138 votes)
Mukilteo 4 62.81% (406 voters registered, 255 voted) 40.83% (98 votes) 59.17% (142 votes)
Mukilteo 5 55.39% (789 voters registered, 437 voted) 48.33% (203 votes) 51.67% (217 votes)
Mukilteo 6 53.59% (599 voters registered, 321 voted) 46.62% (145 votes) 53.38% (166 votes)
Mukilteo 7 66.11% (419 voters registered, 277 voted) 39.10% (104 votes) 60.90% (162 votes)
Mukilteo 8 64.61% (373 voters registered, 241 voted) 43.10% (103 votes) 56.90% (136 votes)
Mukilteo 9 54.25% (553 voters registered, 300 voted) 46.53% (134 votes) 53.47 (154 votes)
Mukilteo 10 43.09% (427 voters registered, 184 voted) 46.33% (82 votes) 53.67% (95 votes)
Mukilteo 11 46.35% (561 voters registered, 260 voted) 44.62% (112 votes) 55.38% (139 votes)
Mukilteo 12 60.52% (775 voters registered, 469 voted) 40.00% (182 votes) 60.00% (273 votes)
Mukilteo 13 64.52% (589 voters registered, 380 voted) 42.23% (155 votes) 57.77% (212 votes)
Mukilteo 14 55.18% (685 voters registered, 378 voted) 45.30% (164 votes) 54.69% (198 votes)
Mukilteo 15 33.13% (323 voters registered, 107 voted) 59.22% (61 votes) 40.78% (42 votes)
Mukilteo 16 54.78% (785 voters registered, 430 voted) 41.29% (173 votes) 58.71% (246 votes)
Mukilteo 17 48.06% (826 voters registered, 397 voted) 46.07% (176 votes) 53.93% (206 votes)
Mukilteo 18 54.74% (780 voters registered, 427 voted) 45.85% (188 votes) 54.15% (222 votes)
Mukilteo 19 60.18% (447 voters registered, 269 voted) 45.42% (119 votes) 54.58% (143 votes)
Mukilteo 20 44.81% (770 voters registered, 345 voted) 47.60% (159 votes) 52.39% (175 votes)
Mukilteo 21 55.10% (343 voters registered, 189 voted) 43.42% (76 votes) 56.57% (99 votes)

Thanks to the Snohomish County Auditor’s office for this data.

It’s reassuring to know that even Tim Eyman’s neighbors had the wisdom to see through his most recent scheme. I-1125 was a poorly written, thoughtlessly conceived initiative that deserved to be defeated. And thankfully, it was.

Statement on the apparent defeat of I-1125

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Following the release of the first returns for the 2011 general election, NPI’s Permanent Defense published the following statement, reacting to the apparent defeat of Tim Eyman’s I-11125.

Many long months of working to educate voters about the cost and consequences of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1125 thankfully appear to be paying off tonight.

Although many ballots have yet to be counted, early returns suggest that when the election is certified, Washington will have rejected yet another senseless Eyman scheme to paralyze transportation planning and wreck government.

“We’re pleased to see that I-1125 is failing both east and west of the Cascades,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve, observing that the initiative was losing in counties like Whitman as well as King, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Island counties. “Tonight, Washingtonians are thoughtfully saying yes to safe roads and no to Tim Eyman’s plot to slap handcuffs on the wrists of our transportation planners. This is a significant victory for our common wealth and for the common good.”

“For months, we’ve been working alongside many friends and allies to ensure that I-1125 received the opposition it deserved,” Villeneuve added.

“We’re delighted that those efforts have paid off. We’re especially grateful to each and every activist that helped phonebank, put up yard signs, knock on doors, and distribute literature. Getting out the vote requires a big time commitment, but it’s crucial. Donations of time are just as important as donations of money.”

“We thank the voters for considering the concerns that we raised, and ultimately agreeing with us that Washington simply couldn’t afford I-1125.”

Voters in King County never demanded “$30 car tabs”

Election PostmortemRethinking and Reframing

Still mad over King County Executive Dow Constantine’s successful efforts to patch Metro’s funding shortfall, Tim Eyman is now asking his supporters to print out and hang up an eight and one half by eleven inch poster which accosts King County Councilmembers Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert as liars, Councilmember Julia Patterson as a sell-out, and Councilmember Bob Ferguson as… wait for it… Switzerland (because he didn’t say at the outset of the debate how he would vote).

In his email announcing the poster, Eyman complains:

“Whatever happened to our $30 car tabs?”  We hear it all the time from citizens. Voters have twice approved $30 car tabs and required that anything higher than $30 requires voter approval. It’s what the voters demanded and what the politicians promised (after I-695 was rejected by the courts — Governor Gary Locke said “Regardless of the court’s ruling today, $30 tabs are here to stay.”).

While Initiatives 695 and 776 (which Eyman is referring to) did pass statewide, they both failed in King County. In other words, King County actually voted against $30 car tabs… twice. So, in choosing to raise vehicle fees to save Metro, King County’s leaders were actually not only taking a just and moral action to protect a vital public service, they were respecting the will of the people they represent.

(Initiative 695, on the ballot in 1999, failed in King County by a vote of 53.34% to 46.66%. Initiative 776, on the ballot in 2002, failed in King County by a vote of 59.57% to 40.43%. Neither outcome was close).

Memo to the Seattle Times: Majority vote means fifty percent plus one – no more, no less!

Election PostmortemIn the CourtsRethinking and Reframing

The following is the text of the letter to the editor sent by NPI to the Seattle Times in response to the Times’ Sunday editorial urging the state Supreme Court not to strike down I-1053 if it receives an opportunity to do so.

In your Sunday, June 5th editorial (State’s two-thirds rule on taxes should be retained), you contend that Tim Eyman and BP’s Initiative 1053 (which violates Article II, Section 22) could pass constitutional muster:

The constitution does say a majority, but it uses negative language. It says, ‘No bill shall become a law’ without a majority. The state’s Republican attorney general, Rob McKenna, argues that this sets a minimum standard, and that the voters, through the initiative process, may temporarily raise it.

A similar argument was made by proponents of a 1053-like measure in Alaska several years ago, and rejected by Alaska’s Supreme Court in Alaskans for Efficient Government v. State of Alaska (2007). “Other courts interpreting constitutional language have wisely refrained from attributing any automatic significance to the distinction between negative and positive phrasing,” the Court ruled.

Referring to the proponents (Alaskans for Efficient Government), the Court added:

AFEG’s logic would just as readily compel the anomalous conclusion that section 14 was meant to set a ceiling but not a floor — that a majority vote would be the maximum needed to enact any bill, but the legislature would remain free to specify a sub-majority vote as sufficient to enact laws dealing with specified subjects, as it saw fit.

Majority vote means fifty percent plus one. No more, no less. There is no minimum standard. There is only the standard the founders intended – the only standard that makes sense in a democracy.

Our founders knew when it was appropriate to use supermajorities to protect minority rights from mob rule. Wherever a supermajority is required, the Constitution spells it out. But there is no reference to supermajorities in Article II, Section 22. That’s because the founders intended for a majority vote to decide the fate of all bills – not just some bills.

Initiative 1053 is a slippery slope. Unless it is struck down, we will not be protected against future copycat measures that undemocratically tie lawmakers’ hands and prevent our republic from functioning as it was designed to.

The Times gravely errs in attempting to justify its support of an initiative that dangerously undermines our plan of government.

POSTSCRIPT: The Seattle Times has published this letter online.

Two out of three corporate initiatives passing easily, including Tim Eyman’s I-1053

Election PostmortemRethinking and Reframing

As expected, the two corporate initiatives that public interest advocates failed to effectively organize and mobilize against – Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 and the American Beverage Association’s Initiative 1107 – are passing handily in the first returns to be reported.

The success of I-1053 and I-1107 deals Washington’s fragile common wealth a devastating blow at a time when many families are especially in need of vital public services, particularly the state’s safety net.

It’s clear from the big margins that both I-1053 and I-1107 are getting that voters didn’t comprehend the true consequences of either when filling out their ballots. They didn’t realize that I-1053 sabotages our cherished tradition of majority rule, and has caused legislative gridlock in states like California. They didn’t realize that I-1107 destroys revenue that has been helping to keep our safety net from being eviscerated. And no wonder: Few progressive organizations put any resources into telling the story of the harm 1053 and 1107 would — and now will — cause.

The word feeble doesn’t even begin to describe the efforts against 1053 and 1107, which were a failure in every respect. The consultants tasked with coming up with a plan for responding to the initiatives were resigned to what they felt was an inevitable defeat from the beginning. They created a self-fulfilling prophecy by opting against responding aggressively. The broad-based coalition against 1053 and 1107 thus existed in name only, and accomplished very little.

The lessons of the past were forgotten, opportunities to take action were squandered, and the decisions that did get made lacked input from the people actually in the trenches trying to defend our common wealth.

The result is a travesty. The Legislature’s efforts to responsibly close the most recent budget deficit have been undone, and worse, Article II, Section 22 of our Constitution has been sabotaged again, preventing the House and Senate from democratically acting to raise revenue to protect our common wealth in the future.

If we’ve learned one thing from this campaign, it’s that the state of paralysis and the mindset of resignation are our greatest enemies. Permanent Defense will work to overcome both in 2011 by attempting to build an unprecedented first line of defense against the next crop of right wing initiatives, including Tim Eyman’s next scheme to wreck government. We pledge to do our best to ensure that activists, citizens, and legislators who want to fight have the ability to do so, and are not marginalized by the indecision and defeatism of others.

Eyman invites supporters to join him in crashing Dino Rossi and Dave Reichert’s Election Night party

Ballot WatchdoggingElection Postmortem

Unwilling to organize an Election Night party of his  own – either because almost nobody would come, or because he’s just too lazy to go to all the trouble of putting together an event – Tim Eyman has invited his supporters to join him in crashing Dino Rossi and Dave Reichert’s Election Night party at the Bellevue Hilton.

In an email, Eyman says:

Join us at the taxpayers’ victory celebration at the Bellevue Hilton (300 112th Ave SE) on election night (several other campaigns are going to be there too, making it much easier for all our supporters — having one big party is better than having lots of little ones). We’ll get there around 7:45 pm, polls close at 8:00 pm and our victory speech will be given at 8:05 pm.

In typical Eyman fashion, Tim makes it sound like he was responsible for creating a grand taxpayers’ victory celebration that other campaigns are participating in. The reality is, he’s crashing the biggest Republican Election Night party in King County, just as he has for the past several years.

What we want to know is, why didn’t he take advantage of  his friends at BP, Shell, Tesoro, ConocoPhillips, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and get them to pony up some moolah for a nice big party? What’s the use of having wealthy corporations as allies if they can’t at least underwrite a rockin’ party?

Pierce, Benton counties flip to NO on Initiative 1033

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

The victory over Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 continues to get bigger.

Yesterday evening, Benton County… which is a reliable vote for Eyman’s anti-tax initiatives… flipped to the NO side, joining much of the rest of southeast Washington in defeating Eyman’s latest scheme to kill jobs and wreck our common wealth.

And today, Pierce County has become the latest to flip. NO on I-1033’s lead in Pierce as of 5 PM today is almost a thousand votes. If the trend continues, that will leave Mason as the only county touching Puget Sound to vote in favor of Initiative 1033.

“The scope of this accomplishment gets more breathtaking by the day,” Northwest Progressive Institute Executive Director and Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve said. “The coalition that united to beat back 1033 worked into the final days and hours to turn out the vote, and those efforts are clearly being reflected in the results we’re seeing.”

“The people of Washington State deserve a giant pat on the back for thinking beyond the ballot title and recognizing the consequences of this ill-conceived initiative.”

Statement on apparent defeat of Tim Eyman’s I-1033

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

The Northwest Progressive Institute, Permanent Defense’s parent organization,  released the following statement on the apparent defeat of Tim Eyman’s I-1033 tonight.

“We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief tonight with the apparent defeat of Initiative 1033,” said Villeneuve. “I-1033 would have trapped our state in a permanent recession, making an economic recovery impossible.”

“Tonight’s victory over Tim Eyman is a testament to the many organizations and people that came together to create the NO on I-1033 Coalition. We at the Northwest Progressive Institute are incredibly proud to have been part of such a diverse and determined effort to protect our quality of life.”

Villeneuve noted that I-1033 is currently failing in many counties across Washington, both east and west.

“We worked aggressively during this campaign to get the word out about the harmful consequences of this initiative in every corner of the state. That’s why we’re seeing counties like Asotin, Garfield, and Columbia turning this scheme down. Tough times have already forced local governments there down to bare bones. Initiative 1033 would have gutted what was left. Fortunately, Washingtonians have said no to greed and yes to a sustainable future, sparing our communites from a devastating blow.”

The defeat of Initiative 1033 marks the first time voters have turned down a Tim Eyman initiative in an odd year, and it is the first time voters have consecutively rejected Eyman initiatives two years in a row on the ballot.

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