For immediate release
Contact: Abigail Leong
Washington Removes Barrier for Voters by Eliminating Advisory Votes
Lawmakers pass Senate Bill 5082 to replace these nonbinding ballot items with truthful online information
OLYMPIA, Wash. – On Friday night, state lawmakers passed a bill to remove advisory votes from Washington ballots. These items ask voters if they would prefer to maintain or repeal tax laws, but the results of these misleading votes have no impact. Senate Bill 5082 replaces advisory votes with something that is actually useful: accurate, truthful online information that provides context about the budgeting decisions of our elected representatives.
“Advisory votes are a waste of significant tax dollars on non-binding votes that we can use for education, for housing, for other essential needs that this state clearly has,” said Senator Patty Kuderer as she introduced the bill in committee. “They cause confusion and frustration among voters and they unnecessarily increase the workload on hardworking elections officials. It’s time to end this failed experiment.”
“As an organizer who supports community members with limited English proficiency in the voting process, I’m always looking for ways to make voting more accessible,” said Hailey Wu, the community engagement coordinator at Asian Counseling and Referral Service. “Advisory votes have added a huge barrier to voting because they discourage people who think it’s mandatory to fill out the entire ballot. Eliminating advisory votes makes voting simpler and accessible to all.”
Advisory votes have appeared on Washington ballots since 2012 thanks to former initiative promoter Tim Eyman. Since they were first introduced, voting justice advocates have criticized them for their biased language and their total lack of impact.
“We believe that the ballot is sacred, and not a place for surveys,” said Kathy Sakahara, from Northwest Progressive Institute. “These votes are full of loaded phrases that attempt to influence public opinion rather than measure it.”
The removal of advisory votes from our ballots will save millions of tax dollars. The costs associated with designing, printing, and tabulating long ballots full of nonbinding questions are significant. King County billed the state of Washington over $1 million for costs associated with advisory votes in a single year.
Members of the Washington Voting Justice Coalition applaud our lawmakers’ decision to remove this unnecessary obstacle to voting.
The WA Voting Justice Coalition is a group of community organizations and individuals, dedicated to voting rights and access in Washington State. We believe that the vote is our tool, as ordinary people, to have a voice in our government. Website: wavotingjustice.org