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Op-ed: Back To The Future: The Disregard For The Real, Contemporary World

Jim Boldt, President of Duckabush Communications/Public Affairs, wrote the following commentary about voters, cyber security, ports and ballot access.

Now two weeks into a torturous election year legislative session it looks like the legislature, local government, and the Governor are ignoring the real world. At least the voters. What will it be like by the end of March?

1. Don’t Vote, We Will Do What We Want, Anyway

It may have start way back in 2001, when voters said “no” to a new baseball park. You know, the nice baseball park that was built anyway.

And now, recently, with the statewide approval of yet another (what fourth?) majority vote to reduce car tabs to $30.  Ignoring the public for over a decade and continuing to pile on charges for car tabs, local government decided they would sue to overturn the 53 percent yes vote for…get ready…one more time…$30 tabs. Had Sound Transit not been Sound Transit in it’s continual attempt to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, I-976 may not have garnered the support of voters and the ire of the King County know-it-alls. But it did, and they don’t care. In court now to pick the words apart, our government wants to ignore you and reinstate the bloated valuation of your vehicle.

By the way, do bikes and electric cars help with roadway construction and maintenance charges? The very public surface on which they operate, in their own lane at times? Have you seen a state license tab on a bike lately? The green ones? The lime ones? The red ones? Any?

Inslee added his office to the “ignore-the-public-vote” campaign. The Governor previously appointed Edrin Okoloko to the Snohomish County Superior Court in Sept. 2018 and he took office the next month.  He was appointed. I am sure he is a great jurist, none the less, the voters in Snohomish county defeated his bid to get legitimately placed on the court in the Nov. 2019 election. He lost. But that doesn’t matter, Inslee just appointed him back on the bench for an open spot.  The Governor knows what is best for the Snohomish county voters, right?

2. Worried Over Here, No Problem Over There: Cyber Security

Over the last two years the legislature has introduced no less than three or four bills pertaining to cyber security (SB 6168, HB 2325, SB 5153 and HB 1109). The preambles, first sections of these bills, announce the troubles and existential catastrophe from lack of data and personal information security. Good for them. By the way, there is no privacy left in America so let’s just get over it.

Then comes some obscure Washington State local government that is going to conduct an election via a voting app for smartphones. Welcome to the ghost of Christmas future.  If there are security issues with state-of-the-art, leading edge servers and platforms of the military and private sectors, what do we really think will be at play in our elections? Watch closely as this unfolds.

3. Luddites Still On The Prowl

It was Valentine’s Day last year when we called to your attention a bill introduced by a group of Luddite legislators. They’re baaaaaaaack! Second verse (HB 2828), same as first, these deep thinkers want to restrict our ports in their use of technology for loading and unloading ships. “Let’s do it by hand,” seems their cry.

4. Restricted Ballot Access? I Thought We Wanted Inclusive Voting? “There’s An App For That.”

The House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee held a public hearing on HB 2529 (Odd-year elections). This bill would essentially ban initiatives and referendums in odd numbered years while still allowing local government to run special elections to raise taxes among other issues. The folks over at Washington Policy Center framed it pretty well in their story.

Now, I’ve only been involved in Washington politics for fifty years (that long?), but I know that in our state at least, off-year elections usually draw a more conservative vote, a more frequent voter. Even- numbered years have more interest and draw more folks and thus the pool is larger and tends to lean with the overall state attitude…as in more liberal. The anomaly to this is that special districts like to run their niche tax increases in odd number years because, once again the pool is smaller, and if they ID their supporters, run a low-key campaign, they can get enough sympathizers on a dark, rainy February Tuesday to pass the taxes and levies. I have served on school boards and fire commissions. I know the strategy.

That said, seems like some legislators don’t want to allow the people’s right of initiative to have access to the odd number year ballots. Too many conservative voters? Less chatter and better understanding around issues? Why? (See #1 above maybe)

Article 1. Section 34, Washington State constitution:  ….Provided, That the authority hereby conferred upon the legislature shall not be construed to grant to the legislature any exclusive power of lawmaking nor in any way limit the initiative and referendum powers reserved by the people.”

“…in any way limit…”   Hmmmmmm?

Summary? Bottom line?

If you add all of this up, it looks like our governments, officers and legislative branch are on approach  to generally disregard our votes. Except for the move to allow online, app voting. Thank goodness those local governments and their voting apps are secure.

Me: “Alexa, vote me ‘No’ on items two, three and four, and ‘Yes’ on the school levy.”

Alexa: “You know it won’t matter, they will do what they want.”

Me: “Who is my legislator?”

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