Tomorrow the judge should boot the billionaires’ anti-gun-rights initiative off the ballot — if he doesn’t, then laws on petitions are moot.
If this was an Eyman initiative, everyone would insist I follow the law.
Because opponents know that voters support our initiatives (like $30 tabs), they’ve often filed pre-election legal challenges to prevent voters from voting on them. The courts have consistently rejected those, saying “let the voters vote.” However, the courts have repeatedly said that a procedural challenge is the exception to that rule. In other words, initiative campaigns that don’t abide by the law, don’t get a vote.
The petitions for 1639 were totally screwed up. The Constitution and a longstanding law clearly mandate that a “full, true, and correct” copy of the text of the initiative must be printed on the back of petitions. 1639’s petitions didn’t do that.
It’s really simple: when you add language to existing law you gotta underline the new stuff (The government may confiscate your firearms). When you delete provisions of existing law, you gotta cross it out (You have the right to protect yourself).
I-1639 petitions didn’t do that. There’s no way to tell what policies are being added and what policies are being subtracted by I-1639.
Tomorrow at 9am in Thurston County Superior Court, a judge will decide if all the violations of law on 1639’s petitions are acceptable.
Initiative 1639’s billionaire backers in their legal brief argue that no violation of any law by initiative sponsors can ever be used as justification to prevent a vote on an initiative.
In her reply brief, Secretary of State Kim Wyman makes clear how dangerous a precedent this sets:
It is “important to ensure that the initiative process is not manipulated. … Immediate access to the full text of the initiative provides potential signers with an opportunity to read the complete text of the measure … and also provides potential signers with a way to check the accuracy of what signature gatherers may be telling them. … If compliance with the standards in (the law) is deemed completely unreviewable, then future initiative sponsors are likely to ignore (the law’s) requirements, especially because doing so will often save money. … A sponsor could even print only part of the text, or worse, an entirely false or misleading version of the text, with no consequence whatsoever. If neither the Secretary of State nor the courts can review and evaluate petitions for compliance with (the law), then the signature-gathering process can be manipulated and the constitutional initiative process can be undermined.”
Wyman doesn’t stop there. She almost begs the judge to order her to kick 1639 off the ballot:
“The Court Should Recognize that Mandamus Is an Available Avenue for the Court to Evaluate Whether the I-1639 Petitions Violate (the Law) … mandamus may be issued … to prohibit an official from performing an otherwise mandatory act … a Writ of Mandamus would be appropriate if this court determines the Secretary should be enjoined from certifying Initiative 1639 because of a deficiency in the petitions.”
Wyman took a lot of heat from 2nd amendment supporters for “accepting” the 1639 petitions. But the law didn’t give her the authority to “not accept” them.
Her reply brief illustrates that though she is restrained by the law, she is nonetheless strongly opposed to allowing Initiative 1639 on the ballot because the petitions didn’t comply with the law. She recognizes and verbalizes the danger of a consequence-free system where initiative sponsors don’t have to print their petitions correctly.
As a 20 year veteran of sponsoring initiatives, some might think that I’d side with 1639 sponsors and embrace the lawless freedom they’re advocating for.
No way. These are common sense requirements that are easy to comply with. It’s not too much to ask for initiative sponsors to print the “full, true, and correct” text on the back of petitions.
I’ll be sitting in that Olympia courtroom tomorrow morning because:
* I want to see first-hand what happens to a process I’ve devoted my life to
* My presence may remind the judge that his ruling affects me too.
Tomorrow this judge should boot the billionaires’ anti-gun-rights initiative off the ballot. It’ll send a message that even billionaires have to follow the law. And besides, because they have unlimited resources, they can sponsor it again next year (and next time they’re likely to follow the law). So voters won’t be “robbed” of their right to vote on this initiative, their vote will just be delayed.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Top 5 Contributors: Suzanne Burke, Puget Sound Chapter NECA PAC, Andrew Skotdal, Tim Eyman, Thomas O’Brien