Category Archives: Election 2015

Request to block initiative 1366 goes before King County judge on Friday

Voter initiatives have been found to be unconstitutional in the past, but voters usually get to weigh in before the courts intervene. Several plaintiffs, including King County Elections Director Sherrill Huff, filed suit to block Initiative 1366 from appearing on the general election ballot.

The Tim Eyman-led measure would direct the Legislature to send a constitutional amendment to the ballot. If the Legislature refused, the state’s sales tax take would be reduced from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent, which in the near term would mean a loss of $2.8 billion per biennium, according to John Stang’s Crosscut piece.

The constitutional amendment Eyman wants would require a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to approve any tax increase. Voters have approved the two-thirds requirement before, but most recently the court struck down one initiative that created a constitutional amendment, saying those have to start in the Legislature.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, issued a response today urging the court to let the ballot measure go on the November ballot. She took no stand on the initiative itself, but said voters should weigh in.

“The subject matter of I-1366 is not outside the scope of the people’s initiative power, and the courts have made it a practice to avoid pre-election review except in ‘limited and rare circumstances’ that do not apply here,” Wyman said in a statement.

The lawsuit argues that the initiative’s intent, despite its path to get there, is to amend the constitution. The argument against allowing it on the ballot relates to the cost to taxpayers by having it on the ballot across the state and the usurpation of power normally left to the Legislature to begin a constitutional process.

“In the absence of an injunction, Ms. Huff, Ms. Hall and the taxpayer Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm from incurring the expense of an invalid and needless election as well as the harm caused to all taxpayers by unlawful government action,” the plaintiff’s complaint argues. “Additionally, in the absence of an injunction, the Legislator Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm to their constitutional rights under Article XXIII as representatives of the sole body that can lawfully initiate the constitutional amendment process.”

The case will go before King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum at 10 a.m. Friday.

Huff was formerly the Kitsap County Auditor for eight years between 1979 and 1986 and Bremerton’s deputy mayor.

Eyman was in Bremerton in May 2014 talking about the initiative. Here’s the audio.

Poor turnout a consistent reality across the state

On Tuesday we posted a story showing voter turnout in Kitsap County at right around 12 percent as of Monday. With Tuesday numbers we’re now at about 13.2 percent, according to data released by the Washington Secretary of State’s Office.

As low as our turnout is, across the state it is worse at 10.2 percent. That does include incomplete data from a couple of counties. Okanogan County is so far reporting that out of 5,357 ballots sent out for two primary races, only three ballots have been returned. The Secretary of State’s Office confirms that number is incorrect, but the correct number won’t be reported until tomorrow.

The only county larger than Kitsap that has higher turnout is Spokane County, which as of Tuesday is at 15.6 percent. King County turnout is at 8.3 percent. Pierce is at 7.5.

Douglas County is the highest at 41.6 percent, but that’s among 322 votes. Jefferson County is at 22 percent and Mason is at 18.4 percent.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman predicted 26 percent turnout, but as we pointed out in Tuesday’s story, if April is any indicator we are two-thirds the way of where we will be by next Tuesday, which would put the state’s projected total at about 16 percent. It will take a significant late run across the state to beat that.

Here are the state numbers county-by-county, with the total, Kitsap and its neighbor counties highlighted. Five counties are not included because they do not have primaries.


When best to avoid an election

With final filing results in there are 13 races in which no one expressed an interest in running. As much as it might offend your sense of public participation in democracy, this is probably a good thing.

For example, three of the races are for the Crystal Springs Water District. All three commissioner positions are available and no one has applied. What this means, assuming that continues through next Friday, is that all three positions will go to whoever is in office now.

I don’t know exactly how many customers the water district has, but it can’t be many. In 2011, according to a Washington State Auditor’s Office report, the district reported $3,840 in revenues.

Since local agencies participating in elections have to pay their share for them, a public agency taking in less than $4,000 in revenues is probably not going to be criticized by its constituents for avoiding the election completely. If someone gets tired of being commissioner, that commissioner can quit. The other two board members can go through the process of picking a new one, and then that commissioner can fail to file to run forever and still keep the job for life.

As long as everyone in the district agrees to avoid elections at all costs and because of all costs, this works out. I haven’t talked to anyone at Crystal Springs, or at the Old Bangor Water District, which also has three positions available, or the Port of Waterman, which has two spots in play. I can’t say they’re doing what I’m suggesting could be done. I am saying they probably are and that it’s probably OK with everyone who lives there. Someone can prove me wrong by filing to run.