Monthly Archives: April 2006

No online petition for College not Combat

Got a response back from the Seattle campaign. No dice on online petition and they have a couple of interesting reasons:

Hi Emmett,
sorry for the late response. No, unfortunately, we are not going to have them available online. We want to use union printers for all petitions and having them online would allow our opponents too much room to mess with our efforts, if you know what I mean.

The mention of the union bug made me retrack my thoughts, and I realized that every campaign that I cite for putting a petition online is a conservative initiative campaign. All of Tim Eyman’s, the pro-sprawl campaign and the I-912 group posted their peitions, but I-937 (Clean Energy) isn’t. Makes me think there is a deeper D vs. R split on this thing and it may have to do with the union bug.

Also, she mentioned the fraud theme, which is something I have to follow up on. The question is whether states with 8.5×11 petitions run into a higher rate of initiative fraud.

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“…has become a mechanism special interests use”

Seattle PI

Reed, the secretary of state, said he's noticed another shift in how initiatives are used, and not just by citizens.

"Historically, they were kind of a safety valve for the public," Reed said.

"If a special interest blocked important legislation that people really cared about, they were able to go directly to the people through the initiative process just by the grass roots."

These days, the tables seem to have turned, he said.

"The irony now is, this mechanism set up to try to bypass the special interests has become a mechanism special interests use," Reed said.

"Many of them are issues that are pretty narrow, that one group cares passionately about, and they are willing to put a lot of money in. That's the way it is now with paid signature-gathering and paid advertising."

Only special interests have the money to get on the ballot. The more roadblocks we put up in front of regular people in the initiative process, the more special interests will be the only ones able to use it.

In Pierce County they're talking about making it easier for regular folks to use the local intitiative and referendum process.

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The history of petition sizes, from Kurt Weinreich

Kurt Weinreich of Olympia sponsored a series of initiatives a few years ago, and apparently had some interest in promoting his initiatives by shrinking the size of the initiative petition to "post card size." His thought was that he would mail out post cards to a list of supporters and they would mail them back to him. Neither his idea or Weinreich's petitions have been seen in the last few years, but he did give some interesting HB 1014 back in 2003.

Apparently there are no documents on why the original 1906 size of 12×14 size (even according to the SOS office). What eventually happened was that since no one made 12×14 sized paper, printers had to cut down larger pieces to get to that size. I assume 12×14 had something to do with a standard size of newsprint that eventually changed.

In the early 80s the size was changed to the current 11×14, but even now that isn't a standard size anymore. I assume in the 80s it was, because why else would they have changed it to that size? Most initiatives now, or at least the ones I've looked into, print their petitions on 11×17 sized paper, which is the standard Tabloid size.

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There is no such thing as 11×14 paper

After an exhaustive rainy Saturday search of commercial paper makers, I have come to learn there is no such thing as 11×14 paper. This is, of course, why so many people who sponsor initiatives just jump up to 11×17 (here and here). The current size makes no sense, it does not reflect any sort of paper reality.

This also explains why so many people, when they talk about the minimum standard in Washington for initiative petitions, they mistakenly say 11×17. 

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Signature gatherers can be annoying

Kayne writes about going to the mall:

Paid Signature Gatherers at Westfield
The conservatives are out in force this season. While at Westfield Shopping Center in Tukwila I was approached by two different signature gatherers. When asked, they identified themselves as paid signature gatherers working for Tim Eyman.

I was not surprised by the first request as it happened in the parking lot outside the mall. The second signature gatherer approached me in the food court, which was a bit off-putting. The signature gatherer seemed to be doing a brisk business in eroding civil rights, and didn't quite seem to understand when I said I'm a Democrat and am deeply offended by the Initiative and by her.

One of the reasons that I want to see 8.5×11 initiative petitions is that it would favor ideas that friends would pass along to friends, against ideas that you would need to pay signature gatherers to head to the mall for. Not that I'm against signature gathering in malls, actually a bit of democracy is the middle of concrete & commerce heaven is refreshing.

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Republicans tried to shrink petition in 2003! (it didn’t work)

And, when I say “we,” I mean to include such Republicans as Toby Nixon and Pam Roach. Back in the old days of 2003, when David Goldstein and Tim Eyman were first staring each other down, there was a good idea that didn’t win in the legislature.

Back in 2003 Toby Nixon introduced HB 1014 (in the Senate as SB 5441), which would have shrunk the allowed size of petitions to 8.5×11. Of course it didn’t pass, but it goes to show that a good idea is a good idea on both sides of the aisle. I’ve attached the analysis and there is also audio of the public hearing available at TVW.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1. The Secretary of State supported this idea. That’s good to know, because when your idea to change the initiative process is opposed by the chief election official in the state, I don’t know if your idea gets very far.

2. The Association of Washington Business and Assocation of General Contractors both testified against the bills. And no one else. Even Tim Eyman came down to Olympia for his first legislative hearing to support this one. The AWB opposed the bill because it would limit “voter education,” apparently because if you had a smaller piece of paper to sign, you would know less.

3. There was also opposition because of possible fraud from people faking initiatives. This has been brought up before, so it bears following up on. I wonder since Washington has the largest initiative petition in the country whether we have a particularly low occurance of fake petitions.

4. One person spoke at the House hearing saying that there was no history of why the legislature chose the 11×14 dimensions in the 1980s. They simply landed on that size, which is not a good reason for it to stick around.

And, to say it once more, it doesn’t bother me that Republicans tried to get this done in 2003. The very idea of this came to me from a ballot initiative I didn’t support, and tried to convince others not to sign or vote for. It is just a good idea, no matter who agrees with me.

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College Not Combat website up, but no petition yet

A Seattle petition campaign is up and running, but no word or site of any online petition files at their site. I emailed them just to check.

TO: cncseattle@gmail.com
SUBJECT: posting petition online?

Hi, I was wondering if you were going to post a signature petition pdf file online. Since Seattle allows 8.5×11 sized initiative petitions, I would assume this would be an easy way to distribute petitions.

Thanks, Emmett

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