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Daily News editorial

Initiative 1464, dubbed the “Washington Accountability Act,” is currently gathering signatures with hopes of being on the statewide ballot this fall. This initiative is simply bad policy and would especially hurt the citizens who live near the Oregon/Washington border — like us. If this initiative makes the November ballot, please join us and vote “No.”

Citing a sense of voter apathy due to influence from organizations and individuals with substantial money, supporters of I-1464 say a new system needs to be put in place to accomplish three goals: 1) prevent corruption, 2) promote citizen participation and 3) improve enforcement of campaign laws. The initiative will get its funding by eliminating the tax break out-of-state shoppers get in Washington, which will have a significant negative impact on Cowlitz County and surrounding areas.

I-1464 would take the money collected in the form of sales tax from out-of-state resident purchases and give it back to citizens in the form of three $50 “democracy vouchers.” Voters would then use these democracy vouchers to contribute money to candidates or issues they believe in. At the same time, this initiative would put substantial new limits on monies candidates could receive and spend and put a new “guilty until proven innocent” burden on anyone charged with violating the new law.

According to the Secretary of State’s official website, currently just about four million Washingtonians are registered to vote. If I-1464 passes, each registered voter — and legal residents who are not registered to vote — would get $150 each in democracy vouchers. This totals about $600 million dollars in democracy vouchers. Does this sound like a plan to get money out of politics? On the contrary, it’s just the opposite. This initiative, which is supposedly going to end political corruption, would clearly do more to harm than good by flushing hundreds of millions of dollars into the political system.

Why would adding $600 million in democracy vouchers cause corruption?

Well, here’s one example: Buried in the text of the initiative is information on “returning surplus funds.” Initiative writers set up the system, and it looks ripe for abuse. If a candidate collects democracy voucher money, then drops out of the race, they cannot give the vouchers to whomever they want. They can use the surplus vouchers to pay their personal “lost wages” while campaigning or the new law states the candidate would have to, “transfer the surplus without limit to a political party or to a caucus political committee.” Convenient, huh?

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Promoting citizen participation in the election process is a good thing. Whenever elections come around, politicians encourage people to make their “voice be heard.” Unfortunately when we vote five times to require a supermajority vote for tax increases, politicians don’t listen to our voices, but you know that already.

So, the idea is if you weren’t interested in politics before, now that you’ll be given $150 dollars in democracy vouchers you will get involved. This is baloney, and if you think turning the vouchers back into real money might be a good idea, think again. This new law makes selling vouchers against the law. You could be charged with up to a Class C felony, and this new law allows for civil lawsuits to be filed against you personally if someone suspects the law has been broken.

And the potential new law goes even further, if you make an “expenditure” on behalf of a candidate and it’s deemed in violation of this law, the “burden of proof is then on the presumptive violator to disprove” the findings. Does this sound like good policy? Or policy which will get more folks interested in politics? We don’t think so.

Please join state Rep. Brian Blake, Rep. J.D. Rossetti and the TDN editorial board in voting no on I-1464.

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