Democracy Is a Participation Activity: Don’t Let the Voter Fatigue Stop You From Voting Locally

By Katen Burgess

Every four years we have a presidential election, but how much does the president decide about what goes on in your life? The tolls you pay, the social programs available to the people in your neighborhood, the budget for school you attend and so much more is handled at the state level. That’s why local elections matter.

That’s why you NEED to fill out your ballot if you haven’t already.

No excuses, fill it out, drop it in a mailbox–you don’t even need a stamp as counties will pay for postage on ballots! This is somewhat of a hush-hush policy that’s been reported by the Seattle Times and other news outlets to encourage voter participation. The United States Postal Service will not return any ballot to sender for lack of postage. The post office is reimbursed by the county for all ballots without sufficient postage, which puts some strain on some already tight budgets, but if that’s the price we pay for a functioning democracy, so be it.
Maybe you already voted. Or maybe you’re like me, and you’ve been putting it off because you’re busy with school, and work, and watching football. Enough is enough, friend. It’s time to sit down with your ballot and fill in some circles. The following is a suggestion on how to vote on some state initiatives in case you are still undecided.

State Initiatives to the People:

I-1433 Raise Up Washington

Vote: YES! Yes, a thousand times yes. If you work in the city of Seattle you already have these benefits. You should want other people to have these same benefits. If you don’t have these benefits, don’t they sound nice? This one is a slam dunk.
Notable endorsements: Hillary Clinton, Seattle Times, Nation Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, NAACP, Washington State Labor Council

I-1464 Integrity Washington aka Limit Big Money Politics

Vote: Yes. Keep your corporate money out of my local politics. This sounds great; it’s like a little piece of Bernie Sanders on the ballot (hopefully the only piece, because he’s not an official write-in candidate, so don’t waste your time). Ordinary people’s voices should be heard over lobbyists and corporate money. According to Progressive Voter’s Guide, it’s mostly funded by repealing a tax loophole for out-of state shoppers, which I love. The problem with this bill is kind of like the problem with Bernie Sanders: It sounds too good to be true, and will likely require some sort of upkeep and clarification should it pass.
Notable Endorsements: League of Women Voters, King County Democrats, Green Party of WA

I-1491 Keep Families Safe

Vote: Yes. If this bill is passed, when someone is exhibiting mental illness, violence or other behavior that may indicate they intend to harm themselves or others, their access to firearms can be temporarily restricted by seeking a court-issued extreme risk protection order. Gun violence is a huge issue. I don’t want to take your guns away… unless you’re mentally unstable and indicating you may harm yourself or others.

I-1501 Prevent Fraud and Protect Seniors

Vote: Yes. I don’t want you stealing my grandma’s identity and using her credit cards. Do you want someone stealing your grandma’s identity and using their credit cards? I didn’t think so. This makes identity theft targeting seniors and other vulnerable people a class B Felony.

I-732 Carbon Emission Tax

Vote: No. It would be dope to be the first state to pass this kind of legislation. Unfortunately this iteration of this legislation is broken and poorly written. Proponents will call it revenue neutral, but it’s not. Tax breaks for companies like Boeing will cost the state more than it would bring in. The cost of these tax breaks is estimated to be $797 million by a state budget analysis. There’s no investment of tax revenue in renewable energy. There’s no framework for getting people to transition away from fossil fuels.
Notable Opponents: Washington Conservation Voters, Washington Environmental Council, Sierra Club

I-735 Get Big Money Out of Politics

Vote: Yes. This would make Washington the 18th state to ask Congress to overturn Citizens United. What is Citizens United? I’m glad you asked! From “In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v FEC that corporations, unions and special interests can spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for or against political candidates.” If you were feeling the Bern, this is a no-brainer.