Category Archives: Need help

Why aren’t progressive campaigns posting their initiatives online

There is something going on that I can’t figure out. On the local level, in Seattle and Bellingham, there are handful of progressive municipal initiative campaigns up and running. And, none of them are posting their initiative petitions online.

This is even more troubling because both Bellingham and Seattle (along with Spokane) allow printer sized (8.5 by 11 inch) petitions, which would make it a snap for folks to print out, sign and submit.

On the other hand, the three big conservative statewide initiative campaigns (917, 920 and 933) each have a pdf of their petition on their website. Even though someone would have to go down to a copy place to get it printed, the conservative campaigns are making it much easier for the regular guy to get inolved.

From the couple of emails I’ve gotten from folks involved in progressive initiatives, they seem to have the impression that by allowing anyone to print out, sign and submit a petition they would be allowing for signature fraud.

What do you think?



Filed under general thoughts, Need help, Problems

Meeting on Thursday and notes

This Thursday, I'm going to have my first meeting on this with an actual legislature. I was talking with Rep. Brendan Williams' LA earlier this week on another topic, and I thought as long as I was on the line, I might as well ask for a meeting so I could go over with him my big idea.

Here is the handout I plan to bring. If anyone still reads this blog, give me a comment if you see something I can improve on:

Reducing the size of the statewide initiative petition from 11 by 14 inches to 8.5 by 11 inches, Washington State will meet a growing nationwide standard and reduce the influence of special interests on the initiative process.

8.5 by 11 initiative petitions are common nationwide

Washington has the largest required minimum petition size in the country.

Of the more than 20 states that have some sort of initiative or referendum process, 12 states mandate a particular size for signature petitions. Eight of those states allow regular sized paper (8.5 by 11) to be used. All other states have a minimum size of 11 by 14. Even Michigan, where the minimum allowed size is 11 by 14, is considering a reduction in the minimum size to 8.5 by 11.

By reducing the minimum size of initiative petitions to 8.5 by 11, Washington can meet the national standard.

There is no such thing as 11 by 14 paper

Why does Washington State require petitions to be a size that doesn't even exist?

The original mandated minimum size for an initiative petition in Washington was 12 by 14. In the early 1980s paper was no longer printed in dimensions of 12, so the legislature took an inch off one side to slightly update the petition size. Today, 11 by 17 is the typical size of initiative petitions in Washington.

By reducing the minimum size of initiative petitions to 8.5 by 11, Washington can require a paper size that actually exists.

8.5 by 11 petitions are common statewide for municipal level elections

Only statewide initiatives require 11 by 14 inch petitions.

Both Seattle and Spokane allow regular printer size pages to be used for initiative petitions. In all other local initiative campaigns, such as recall petitions or ballot petitions, 8.5 by 11 petitions are allowed.

By reducing the minimum size of initiative petitions to 8.5 by 11, Washington can meet the standard already set in by our local governments.

8.5 by 11 petitions bring the initiative process closer to citizens

Despite being created in the early 20th century as a safety valve for citizens to circumvent the legislature, the initiative process is more and more the domain of well funded special interests. Because the federal courts have ruled that there can be no limit to donations to initiative campaigns, the only way to decrease special interest influence is to increase the opportunity for citizens to be involved. By allowing citizens to easily print out initiative petitions themselves and voluntarily circulate them, the legislature can lessen the importance of commercial printing of petitions and paid signature gatherers.

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Filed under general thoughts, Meetings, Need help

Washington requires the largest petitions in the country

I knew there had to be something wrong here. From a not very deep look into our nation's initiative petitions, Washington State requires the largest — no less than 11×14 inches, almost twice the size of standard printer paper.

None of the states that I looked at in a search of the Initiative & Referendum Institute's research section require such a large petition. California requires exactly what I'm looking for, a minimum size of 8.5×11 and Florida requires petitions to be no larger than 8.5×11. Florida can only fit one signature per petition, though. One recent initiative turned in over 900,000 signatures. Can you imagine?

Anyway, here are the results. I didn't find a requirment for every state that has the initiative, by the way.

Arizona: 8.5×14 exactly
California: 8.5×11 minimum
Florida: 8.5×11 maximum
Michigan: 8.5×14 exactly
Maine 11×17 maximum
Mississippi: 8.5×11 exact
Missouri: 8.5×14 maximum
Montana: 8.5×14 maximum
Oklahoma: 8.5×14 exactly
Oregon: 8.5×11 exactly
Oregon (counties): 8.5×11 exactly
Utah: 8.5×11 exactly
Washington: 11×14 minimum

So, nine (updated, I realized now that Maine and Mississippi are different) out of the eleven states (and counties for Oregon) that I found information on would allow standard printer paper sized petitions.

What I can't figure out is why Washington requires petitions so much larger than the rest of the country. As I've demostrated, you can fit the text of a initiative on the back of a 8.5×11 piece of paper. I wonder how old the rule actually is and what the reasoning for it was.


Filed under general thoughts, Need help, Success