Category Archives: Republicans

Eight Legislative Races on Ballot in Washington State in 2017

 

There have been a number of special  appointments to fill vacated Legislative seats this year in Washington. As a result there are 5 Senate seats and 3 Representative seats up for election in 2017  because appointments to fill vacancies must stand election at the next General Election.

This provides a unique opportunity for Washington State Democrats to pick  up the Senate seat in the 45th LD in NE King County. Democrats currently are in the minority in the Washington State Senate having only 24 seats to the Republican caucus having 25 seats. Republicans have 25 seats in their caucus because Senator Tim Sheldon, claiming to be a Democrat when he runs, actually caucuses with the Republicans, giving them 25 votes.

The special Legislative elections this year presents a great opportunity for the Democrats to take back the majority in the Washington State Senate.  Democrat Manka Dhingra recently declared she is running for the Senate seat in the 45th LD. Republicans appointed Dino Rossi, a former Legislator and Gubernatorial candidate, to this seat. He has said he was not running in Nov. although this could change considering the importance of this election.

Filing to run in these elections is May 15 -19th. The Primary is August 1st and the general election is Nov. 7th.This is a big opportunity for the surging grassroots opposition to Trump and the GOP  to make a big difference. It is also a chance to get ready for efforts for 2018  to train and challenge ways that grassroots activism can bring e a big change in 2018.

Democrats currently are only 1 seat away from a majority in the Washington State Senate. But they are also only 1 seat away from Republicans controlling the House. Democrats need to increase their numbers in both Houses to be effective and push their legislation.  This year Democrats can start the necessary work now to join California and Oregon in having strong majorities in our Legislature and being able to move forward on the state level to oppose efforts nationally by Trump and the GOP to move our progress backwards. 

List of Legislative races and appointments to the seats:

7th LD Senate – Shelly Short (R)
7th LD House – Jacqueline Maycumber (R)
31st LD Senate – Phil Fortunato (R)
31st LD House – Morgan Irwin (R)
37th LD Senate – Rebecca Saldaña (D)
45th LD Senate – Dino Rossi (R)
48th LD Senate – Patty Kuderer(D)
48th LD House – Vandana Slatter (D)

No Democrats have yet filed to run in the 7th or the 31st races. Republicans will field a candidate in the 45th for sure as well as the 2 seats in the 48th. It is expected that these will be very intensive campaigns with lots of money flowing to both Republicans and Democrats.  Expect that out of state funds from right wing entities like the Koch Brothers will show up.

We need to have Democrats running in every seat – Republicans should have no free ride. And in all these races Democrats can start now registering voters and starting voter contacts to id voters likely to vote Democratic. Marching can get people energized – grassroots organizing is where we make a big difference by changing who’s in charge.

See also  Daily Kos  – Huge – Democrats finally have a chance to take back the Washington State Senate – and turn the State blue.

What happened? What do we do now? Living in Trumpland

For many here is America, the world has changed. They have woken up in a strange land called Trumpland. Democrats, progressives, liberals, independents and even some Republicans are asking what the hell happened.   How did we get here and what do we do now? Below is some recommended reading that attempts to give some insight as to this new reality that has set in. Suggestions are offered by some as to what to do. This is an ongoing search for answers. I will add new articles as they emerge.

Indivisible Guide –  A Practical Guide for resisting the Trump Agenda   has been written by former Congressional staffers, Jan 2017. They give suggestions based on the success of the Tea Party as to how Progressives can fight back, to limit the negative impacts of the GOP and Trump. They also provide links to Indivisible groups that have formed across the country.

‘Data-driven’ campaigns are killing the Democratic Party. Politico Feb 12, 2017  – This article argues that data driven campaign over the last 4 cycles have resulted in catastrophic losses for Democrats.  It urges connecting with voters through storytelling, having a clear message that reaches voters on an emotional level.

A Low Tech Guide to Becoming Politically Active, New York Times, Feb 8, 2017 – Lots of good advice here – the title in the print edition is “How to Turn Your Facebook Rants Into Real-Life Activism”

How to Build an Autocracy, Atlantic March 2017  – Good discussion of the ways Trump and Bannon are working to convert our democracy to an autocracy that benefits the wealthy.
David Frum – “What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, lead by rulers based on greed…Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-option of elites.

What Effective Protest Could Look Like, Atlantic, Feb 6, 2017 –  “Perspective From the Right, for Effective Challenge From the Left

Post-Fascist Europe Tells Us Exactly How to Defend Our Democracy -Yes Magazine Jan 13, 2017 – “Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are 20 lessons from the 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today.”

10 Investigative Reporting Outlets to Follow, Bill Moyers, Jan 13,2017  – “Here are some new organizations to follow as well as a few established ones  that are working to uncover the truth.

A Guide for Rebuilding the Democratic Party from the Ground Up, VOX, Jan 5,2017 -“Organizationally, the US right is light years ahead of the left. A leading political scientist explains what Democrats should do to change that”

To Stop Trump, Democrats Can Learn from the Tea Party, New York Times, Jan 2, 2107 –  Op-Ed – “The Tea Party’s ideas were wrong, and their often racist rhetoric and physical threats were unacceptable. But they understood how to wield political power and made two critical strategic decisions. First, they organized locally, focusing on their own members of Congress. Second, they played defense, sticking together to aggressively resist anything with President Obama’s support. With this playbook, they rattled our elected officials, targeting Democrats and Republicans alike.”

The Democratic Ggame Plan for Making Trump Miserable – and Regaining Power,  New York Magazine, Dec. 23, 2016

What Those Who Studied Nazis Can Teach Us About the Strange Reaction to Donald Trump, Huffington Post Dec 19, 2016 – “While its Important to watch the President Elect Closely, We also Must be Mindful of Our Own Response to Him.”

Why the Electoral College is the absolute worst, explained, VOX, Dec 19, 2016  –  The Electoral College is a rigged archaic voting system that violates the one person, one vote 1962 Supreme Court Decision that changed state elections..

99 Ways to Fight Trump, Do One, Do them all, But do Something

Steve Bannon and Breitbart News, in their own words, New York Times,  Nov 14, 2016 – Bannon and Breitbart News in their own words – necessary reading to help understand the man behind Donald Trump.

Trump’s Choice of Stephen Bannon Is Nod to Anti-Washington Base, New York Times , Nov 14, 2016 – ” In naming Stephen K. Bannon to a senior White House post, President-elect Donald J. Trump has elevated the hard-right nationalist movement that Mr. Bannon has nurtured for years from the fringes of American politics to its very heart, a remarkable shift that has further intensified concern about the new administration’s direction.”

Steve Bannon, Trump’s Top Guy, Told Me He Was a ‘Leninist” Who Wanted to ‘Destroy the State’, TheDailyBeast.com,  August 21, 2016, – When the President’s top advisor’s goal is to tear America apart not build it up we as a nation are under siege. That is what is happening now.
Daily Beast – “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed. Shocked, I asked him what he meant. Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.”

Uneasy About the Future, Readers Turn to Dystopian Classics, New York Times, Jan 27, 2017 – Big surge in dystopian classics happening as people buy copies of Margaret Atwood’s Tales of a Handmaid, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, and Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. Not surprising considering what is happening.

Shape Tomorrow, Register and Vote –  the Democrats’ Sleeping Giant – Down with Tyranny, Jan 18,2017  – Case Study on successful impact of registering people to vote.

Autocracy , Rules for Survival, New York Review of Books, Nov. 10, 2016, – “But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.”

On Ignoring Trump’s Tweets – Time to Attack GOP’s Bad Policy Proposals

It’s time for Democrats and others who do not support Trump’s proposed agenda and that of the GOP that now controls Congress, to start talking about the issues facing our country. Many of the programs and laws that progressives have put in place to help people and make America a better place to live are now  under threat of being reversed and lost.

It’s time to stop responding to Trump’s inane and diversionary tweets (and other comments) as Jack Shafer on Politico writes in a post entitled “Stop Being Trump’s Twitter Fool” As Shafer says:

“By this time you’d expect that people would have figured out when Donald Trump is yanking their chain and pay him the same mind they do phone calls tagged “Out of Area” by Caller ID. But, no. Like Pavlov’s dog, too many of us leap to object or correct the president-elect whenever he composes a deliberately provocative tweet …”

It’s time to refocus on America and protecting the advances made by Democrats over the years. Trump has dominated the media for the last year and a half with his reality TV show hype and rant. The media was taken in by it as well as the Democratic Party. He has snookered many Americans into voting for him based on short soundbites that says little about what he would do.

We do know however the broad outline based on years of right wing proposals in Congress and Trump seems to be in the their camp on most of these proposals. Have no doubt –  the agenda of the far right, the tea party and GOP conservatives will be advancing through Congress now with Trump winning the Presidency and Republicans controlling both the US House and US Senate. There is no sense that the Republicans will be restrained or reasonable in their moving forward. And there is no longer someone in the White House to veto their proposals.

It’s time to now aggressively go on the offense and work to change the discussion to where they are vulnerable. It’s time, for example,  to emphasize how they are threatening human health and our planet by proposing to ignore or reject the Paris Climate Agreement. We need to aggressively reduce carbon pollution, not work to produce more while enriching coal and oil companies and  generating more pollution. We need to shift to a post carbon economy.

Push them on the national minimum wage not being raised because of Republican opposition since 2009, stuck at $7.25 and no automatic adjustment for inflation. The current minimum wage is a starvation wage, not a living wage. It is an affront to human dignity and decency and Republicans should be ashamed. Push for a $15/hour minimum wage.

Talk about how cutting taxes for the wealthy like the inheritance tax and income taxes is just going to further increase income inequality. The country more and more is a plutocracy where a wealthy few are running it. Electing a so called billionaire who has used the anger of working families to get elected by offering them change he never really defined is a recipe for being hoodwinked.

Talk about how their continuing to propose to privatize medicare and social security will hurt millions of low income people. That is not caring for working families – it is merely following the agenda of those that want to extract more profit for the few at the top of medical corporations and pharmaceutical companies. Health care is a human right and should not turn wage earners into pawns to extract money from to further enrich the wealthy.

Talk about how Democratic economic policies will help working families while Trump’s are focused on helping the already wealthy 1% and corporate America.

Talk about how to educate our children, not make schools into profit machines to enrich the few by using public money for private schools and charter schools.

The change we need is to talk about the impact of his proposed policies, not his personality since we’ve seen that is not effective even if what is said is true. Talk about how Democratic polices  make life better for working families while Republican policies have been a driving force for wealth creation by the 1% at the expense of the 99%.

It’s time to move forward  by emphasizing where the GOP and Trump are  not helping working families. Do this by proposing an aggressive agenda to raise the minimum wage, push for Green jobs and protect public health and safety and welfare from corporate greed.

If Congress won’t do this then work at the state and local level to push these issues and involve the public in building  support for voting the GOP out of Congress in 2 years and replacing them with Democrats who really are working to help the people of America.

It’s time to get to work!

Time to Change Electoral College Vote to National Popular Vote

For the second time in 20 years the winner of the national popular vote for US President  will not become the President.  Instead the winner of the Electoral College Vote will. Hillary Clinton has  1.42 million more votes nationally than Donald Trump. Donald Trump will however under the US Constitution  be elected President by Electors  assigned by 306 Electoral Votes for Trump and  232 for Hillary Clinton with Michigan still finalizing their results  as of this writing. A vote of 270 electoral votes is needed to win.
An alternative to the Electoral College is states passing the National Popular Vote law.

 The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide (i.e., all 50 states and the District of Columbia). Written Explanation  

States that have passed the National Popular Vote include California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The status of all the states can be seen by clicking on this link.  State Status
One national organization working to pass the National Popular Vote is Common Cause.

“If you’re upset that the Electoral College swung this election, then the National Popular Vote compact is the most effective and practical way to change our system for the better. Please add your name today to tell lawmakers in your state to sign onto the National Popular Vote compact.

Representative Barbara Boxer has introduced a bill in Congress to amend the US Constitution to abolish the Electoral College. This is a much more difficult process that requires 2/3 of the members of both Houses of Congress to vote for it and then 3/4 of the states to pass it. Considering that Republicans control both the US House and Senate and a majority of state legislatures around the country this approach is likely not going anywhere at the moment.

Interestingly President Elect Donald Trump  reaffirmed his support for abolishing the Electoral College on 60 minutes this week but the next day praised the Electoral College. As usual it seems he is all over the place and one has no idea what he thinks.

The most practical approach at this time is for people to work to pass the National Popular Vote bill to create an interstate compact that uses the national popular vote to decide the outcome of the election. Check out what is happening in your state and urge your state legislators to act.

Will Complacency and Progressives Let Trump Win the Presidency?

Michael Moore in his comments to Bill Maher at the Republican National Convention makes a strong point. Complacency by Democrats and independents who think Trump has no chance of winning and then not voting could tip the election to Trump.

Voter turnout has been going down in our elections as voters disengage. Progressives will contribute to this problem by not voting for Hillary and continuing to dwell on her negatively rather than looking at her pluses compared to Trump.

There is no way progressives win with a Trump victory. Progressives can put pressure on Hillary and Democrats in Congress if we take back the Senate and the House. Nothing will happen positively with a Trump win and Republicans holding both houses of Congress.

Some of us have lived through numerous Republican Administrations and seen the power of the presidency. And as President  Obama has shown the President does have the power to affect a lot of things despite not controlling Congress. including Supreme Court nominations and who gets appointed to run the Government and executive orders. But a President Trump combined with a Republican House and Senate would be a wipeout for Democratic programs and American society in general, reversing decades of progressive action.

We win by being involved, not by sitting on the sidelines and complaining or disengaging. Turnout for Protest votes like Brexit have consequences. Who turns out to vote can have tremendous impacts. Younger voters were expected to vote “remain” but voted in lower numbers than older voters.

The same impact of low voter turnout by particular groups supporting Democrats happened in the US in the 2014 Senate and Governor’s race resulting in the US Senate being taken over by the Republicans. As Sam Wang noted in his post in the American Prospect entitled “One reason the Democrats Lost So Big in Midterms:Exceptionally Low Voter Turnout”:

A larger question is why voter turnout hit a new post-World War II low. Compared with 2012, the number of votes cast dropped by about 42 percent. Democrats lacked a coherent message, de-emphasized their own policies in immigration and health care, and sidelined their highest-profile messenger, Barack Obama. Instead, issues such as Ebola and ISIS dominated the news. Relative media inattention to the election may have depressed turnout more than usual. These and other factors affecting turnout are inherently difficult for pollsters to anticipate. In 2014, the Midterm Curse, which this year afflicted both pollsters and Democrats, was in all likelihood caused by exceptional voter apathy.

Lower voter turnout by Democrats  this year could help Trump become President despite lagging in the polls. Some of the reasons for lower democratic voter turnout could include:

  • Lack of a strong motivating message by Democrats that Hillary will move forward strongly on addressing issues like income inequality, increasing job creation, opposing bad trade agreements, funding educational opportunities and expanding health care for all.
  • Progressives sit on the sidelines upset because Bernie Sanders was not nominated.
  • Progressives vote for a third party candidate like Jill Stein.
  • Democrats think there is no way someone like Trump can be elected and don’t bother to vote.
  • Young voters who supported Bernie Sanders become disenchanted and don’t vote.
  • Voter suppression efforts prevent enough Democratic voters from voting in key states
  • Progressives and others believe FOX News, Roger Ailes and other right wing media that Hillary is “evil” and don’t vote.
  • Progressives and others help spread the right wing message that Hillary is “evil” and cause others to not vote.
  • Conservatives continue to believe Trump represents the middle class rather than the 1% he really represents.

There can be other reasons also but the real challenge is convincing Democrats and independents that this election is a change election and that Hillary is the change agent. Put the blame for income inequality on Republican tax policy. Lowering taxes on the wealthy as Trump proposes will only make things worse.

Not raising the minimum wage means that more people may have jobs but can’t afford basic things like food and housing in the current economy. Trump and Pence oppose raising the minimum wage. Hillary has proposed significantly raising the minimum wage to $15/hr.

Trump and the Republicans oppose acting on climate change and support continued mining of coal for producing energy. Hillary proposes shifting to green jobs and renewable energy.

Hillary has proposed overturning Citizens United with a Constitutional Amendment to help get Big Money Out of Elections while Trump has been silent on this and Republicans oppose any changes.

These and other issues point to a clear difference in the direction the country would move under their Presidency. Hillary’s positions represent a significant change from the direction Trump wants to go and that Republicans have so far prevented us from going.  Elect Hillary and boot the Republicans out of Congress and the people of America can really move forward to a better American future for all, not just the 1%. That is real change!

Senate Republican Leadership Continues to Block Electronic Filing of Campaign Finance Reports

Republicans who are in the majority in the US Senate and in the leadership continue to block electronic filing of Senate campaign finance reports required by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). US Senate candidates only file quarterly reports. Currently the US Senate reports are the only campaign finance reports on the Federal level not filed electronically with the FEC. They are first filed in paper copies with the US Senate, copied and then transferred to the FEC. This significantly delays by 2-3 weeks or more the public and media being able to get timely reporting of campaign contributions and spending.

Democrats joined by Republicans and Independents continue to try to get the US Senate to join the computer age and file copies electronically with the FEC.  Senator Jon Tester of Montana in February 2015  filed SB 366 – the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act. Some 45 Senators have signed on to date – 32 Democrats, 11 Republicans and 2 Independents.

This is not a new issue but Majority Rules wrote about this seven years ago, including “US Senators Still Trying to Figure out Computers and the Internet ” and “An Open Letter to Senator Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell“.  Senator Cantwell has since signed onto this legislation both in this Congressional session and the previous one. Senator Patty Murray for some reason has not. She should.

The Center for Public Integrity in a 2015 post entitled “Senators resist the internet, leave voters in the dark” noted that:

In a throwback to the age of typewriters and snail mail, Senate candidate must still, by law, submit their official campaign finance reports on paper.
A bipartisan bill — known as the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act — would force Senate candidates to file digitally, just as presidential candidates, U.S. House candidates and political action committees have done for nearly a generation.
Paper campaign finance records are more difficult to analyze and aren’t readily available to the public for days after being filed. Digital records are publicly accessible and easily searchable from the moment they’re submitted to FEC officials.

Some Senators have decided to voluntarily file electronically. In the same Center for Public Integrity post it was noted that 20 Senators were listed as also filing their second quarter 2015 reports digitally -16 Democrats, 2 Republicans and 2 Independents.

As GovTrack.us notes:

These reports are important because they list how much money candidates have raised and from which individuals/sources. This transparency in turn can help reveal potential conflicts of interest and indicate which issues an incumbent or potential politician may prioritize while in office. For example, on the presidential race, these numbers have revealed which candidates rely more on Super PACs versus individual donors, or which candidates billionaires have donated to.

The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that the bill would save approximately $500,000 per year through factors such as reduced printing costs.

If your Senator is not a supporter of SB 366 urge them to do so. The public has a right to campaign finance information in a timely manner. In fact while they are at it they really should be doing monthly reporting, not quarterly. Washington State has been doing monthly disclosure by candidates for years and it helps citizens see who is supporting candidates and where money is being spent.

More Democrats Vote In 2016 Washington State Presidential Primary Than Caucus

Washington State held a Presidential Primary on May 24, 2016. While Republicans used the Presidential Primary to determine the ratio of  their delegates for  specific  candidates, Democrats did not. The Democratic vote was purely a poll with no impact on the dividing up who got how many delegates. Democrats held an earlier caucus on Saturday March 26, 2016 to determine that.

The surprise was that more Democrats voted in the Presidential Primary than Republicans despite the Democratic vote not affecting the delegate count. According to the Washington State Secretary of State some 1,421,841 voters voted in the May 25, 2016 Presidential Primary. Of the 4,088.o29 registered voters at the time this represented a turnout of only 34.78%.

The results according to the Washington Secretary of State’s website were as follows:

Democratic vote:  Hillary Clinton ….. 421,461….. 52.38%                                                                               Bernie Sanders……382,393…..47.62%

Total Democratic vote …..802,753

Republican vote:  Ben Carson…………..23,849…….3.96%                                                                                 Ted Cruz………………65,172……10.81%                                                                               John Kasich………….58,954……9.78%                                                                                 Donald J Trump … 455,023…..75.46%

Total Republican vote ….602,998

The Democratic vote was 56.46% of the turnout and Republicans only represented 43.54% of the vote.

The actual division of delegates for the Democrats went through the caucus system where precinct delegates were elected in the following proportion at the March 26, 2016 caucus.  These results are as reported by the New York Times.

Bernie Sanders ……19,159 delegates = 72.7% = 74 delegates

Hillary Clinton ……..7,140 delegates = 27.1% = 27 delegates

other ………………………..46 delegates = .02%

The number of Democrats participating in the caucus was about 230,000 according to OPB . This was about 14,000 shy of the turnout for Democrats in 2008 when Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton ran.

Comparing the Democratic turnout in the Presidential Primary and the Caucus, the nonbinding Presidential Primary saw 3.9 times as many Democrats participate compared to the caucus.  Many voters found the caucus system frustrating and time consuming, particularly when Legislative District Caucuses were held on May 1, 2016 and went into late evening hours. Many people left in frustration and weren’t able to vote.

Some 27,000 Precinct level Delegates were narrowed down to 1400 Legislative District Delegates in the legislative District caucus. The Legislative District Delegates then elected 67 National Delegates at Congressional District Caucuses on May 21, 2016. The Washington State Democratic Central Committee on June 19th elected an additional 34 National Delegates and appointed 17 Super Delegates.  On July 28th in Philadelphia the 118 Washington State Delegates will vote to nominate the 2016 Democratic Party Candidate for President of the United States.

36th District Senator Reuven Carlyle after the Presidential Primary echoed the view of many when he called for an end to the Caucus system. Carlyle in the Tacoma News Tribune said:

State Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said Tuesday’s results highlighted how Washington Democrats’ system of holding both caucuses and primaries needs to go.
Awarding delegates to candidates based on primary results would be less confusing and expand the number of voters who could participate in the nomination process, he said.
“I just think caucuses have a romantic image and play a meaningful role in terms of activism and energy, but that a primary is more Democratic and reflective of the broader values of the population,” Carlyle said.

If you agree the system needs to be changed, contact people in the State Democratic Party. The Washington State Democratic Central Committee can vote to support a Presidential Primary rather than a Caucus system in 2020. Let them know now so the system can be changed.

The current Presidential Primary in Washington State became law in March of 1989 after the State Legislature passed Initiative 99. I-99 had 202,872 people sign.

Time for Automatic Voter Registration in Washington State

Washington State is now the laggard in automatic voter registration on the west coast. Oregon took the first step setting up automatic voter registration when voters apply for a driver’s license. And now California has followed suit.  Two east coast states have also passed automatic voter registration in 2016 – Vermont and West Virginia.

Just over a year ago on March 17, 2015 Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 2177 making Oregon the first state in the nation to automatically register Oregon residents to also be voters when they either renew or first apply for an Oregon driver’s license or state identification card.

As the LA Times noted:

“Those who are registered through the new process will be notified by mail and will be given three weeks to take themselves off the voting rolls. If they do not opt out, the secretary of state’s office will mail them a ballot automatically 20 days before any election.”

NPR reported that Governor Gerry Brown in October 2015 signed their “New  Motor Voter Act” joining Oregon to register voters automatically when they either renew or get a new driver’s license or California state identification card.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a press release stated that:

“In a free society, the right to vote is fundamental. …

“Citizens should not be required to opt-in to their fundamental right to vote,” Padilla added. “We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech or due process. The right to vote should be no different,” Padilla added.

“The New Motor Voter Act will make voter registration a seamless process and result in the largest sustained voter registration drive in our nation’s history. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act, Governor Brown has affirmed California’s commitment to strengthening voting rights. It is not lost on me that many states are restricting voting rights with the clear goal of preventing citizens from voting. I am proud that California is again demonstrating leadership and providing a shining example of how our nation can and should expand access to the polls,” Padilla added.”

Two legislative bills were introduced in Washington State in 2016.  As reported by the HeraldNet:

Two measures, SB 6379 and HB 2682, would automatically register people who aren’t on the voter rolls but already have or apply for an enhanced driver’s license or commercial driver’s licenses. Those who receive social services that verify citizenship or get health insurance through the state health exchange also would be automatically registered. The measure would take effect Jan. 1, 2017, and be retroactive so that unregistered voters who already have the specialized driver licenses or benefits would have their information sent to the Secretary of State’s Office, which would notify them that they can opt out. If the potential voter doesn’t respond, he or she will be automatically registered within 60 days.

Unfortunately the Washington State Legislature did not enact this legislation. HB 2682  passed in the House but died in the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate is controlled by the Republicans who do not support legislation to make it easier for people to vote. SB 6379 did not get voted out of the Senate Committee it originated in.
Inaction on bills like this is a reason for people to vote Democratic. Republicans are not interested in increasing voter participation but have a nationwide track record of voter suppression making it difficult for many people to vote. It is unfortunately no different in Washington State.

Two recent cases provide clear evidence that the Federal Elections Commission is broken

Two recent decisions by the Federal Elections Commission provide clear evidence that the Commission is broken and nonfunctional just like Congress. On split partisan votes it took no action on two separate cases.

As the Washington Post reported in an article entitled, “FEC deadlocked on allegations that Gingrich used 2012 campaign to sell books“:

“Former House speaker Newt Gingrich will not face a Federal Election Commission investigation into allegations that he broke federal law by using his 2012 presidential campaign to promote books that he and his wife wrote, documents released Friday show.

…The FEC’s top attorney recommended in 2013 that the agency investigate Gingrich, but the case languished and the six-member commission eventually deadlocked along partisan lines in June, with the three Republican commissioners voting against an inquiry.

The general counsel’s initial review found evidence of seven violations of campaign finance laws, the FEC documents show. Among the findings: Gingrich’s campaign staff and the employees of his production company at times swapped duties as the then-candidate was holding concurrent campaign rallies and book-signing events….

The general counsel also found evidence that the campaign’s resources benefited Gingrich personally, noting that his campaign website included more than 80 links to the Gingrich Productions website, along with blog entries promoting book signings and movie screenings. Many of the links went to pages urging supporters to buy books written by Newt and Callista Gingrich.”

The second case also was decided on a split partisan vote, meaning no action was taken on what clearly appeared to be political action and avoidance of reporting of campaign donations. As the Washington Post reported “How a film about Obama’s communist ‘real father’ won at the FEC “ was also won because of a partisan split. It is a revisit of the Hillary Clinton case that was decided in the so called “Citizens United” decision by the US Supreme Court which opened the floodgates on money in elections since then. The film in that case mailed also right before the election was  “Hillary:  the movie”

As the Washington Post post reported:

“Four years ago, voters in Ohio and a few other swing states opened their mailboxes to discover a documentary they’d never ordered. “Dreams From My Real Father” posited that the president of the United States was not the son of Barack Obama Sr., but of Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist activist and poet who moved to Hawaii late in life ….

In 2014, a progressive activist named Loren Collins filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Gilbert, arguing that the filmmaker had a responsibility to disclose his donors. The FEC finally weighed in last month, and in a typical 3-3 split decision — by law, the FEC is perpetually split between Democratic and Republican commissioners — Gilbert’s DVD mailing was considered “press,” not subject to donor disclosure, comparable to any political documentary.

“With the right framing, even the most dishonest, smear-mongering attacks can skirt FEC regulations under our current regulations,” said Collins. “His mailing cost at least $1 million, and that could’ve been paid for by Mitt Romney or Donald Trump, and there’s no way to know. Taken together with [the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision], this could have very serious negative ramifications. The general counsel’s report might as well be an instruction manual on how to avoid the transparency that comes with public disclosure of financiers.”

Asking a Commission composed of partisan politicians divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats in a clearly highly charged partisan Washington DC atmosphere is a sure way to have more gridlock. If anything the decisions need to be made by those without a direct stake in a partisan outcome. Time to restructure the FEC to  enable it to make decisions. The simplest  solution is to add a fifth member chosen by the other four members. Another alternative is to remove partisan politicians  and to have the issues decided by a panel of judges. Clearly the current  system is broken.

 

Eyman’s 2015 I-1366 is a Repeat of Eyman’s 2014 I-1325

Initiative 1366, sponsored by Tim Eyman, is a citizen’s initiative for the Nov 2015 Election. It is a refiling of Initiative 1325 from 2014 which Eyman failed to get enough signatures on to qualify. Here are a couple of comments from last year  about this proposal.

Spokesman Review – Jan. 10, 2014 Editorial – “Eyman’s Tax Initiative Looking for a Problem”

Tim Eyman has a new idea, his worst ever, and that’s saying something.
The watch salesman turned initiative promoter submitted a proposal to the Washington Secretary of State on Monday that would compel the Legislature to enact and pass along to voters a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote by state lawmakers or voters on any tax increase.
How compel?
Initiative 1325 would cut the state sales tax rate to 5.5 percent from 6.5 percent. The change would reduce annual revenues by about $1 billion. But the reduction would not occur if the Legislature endorses the amendment by April 15, 2015.
In other words, the initiative puts a $1 billion gun to the head of legislators.
Eyman calls the incentive “oomph.” Blackmail is more like it.

This is not about protecting taxpayers. I-1325 is about keeping Eyman in business.

Crosscut, Feb 6, 2014 – “A 2/3 vote for tax bumps?  Tim Eyman will rise again” – article on a vote by the Legislature for a constitutional amendment for a  2/3 vote for revenue to be placed on the ballot. It received a vote of 25 to 21, far short of the 2/3 needed to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

“Minority Democrats countered that the Legislature struggled to meet financial requirements when the two-thirds requirement was in effect. They unsuccessfully tried to remove the two-thirds requirements to close tax breaks and to allow majority approval of some fund transfers covered by the supermajority requirement in Roach’s bill. The Democratic attempts failed.
Also, Democrats pointed to the need to comply with a 2012 Supreme Court ruling to upgrade education and to restore a frequently suppressed voters initiative to provide cost-of-living increases to teachers.
Democratic Senate budget chief James Hargrove of Hoquiam noted that it took two extra special sessions in 2013 to close two tax breaks to balance the state budget — with a simple majority rule in place. He said 17 senators — 12 percent of the entire Legislature  — could hold the budget hostage in order to get their pet bills passed. “It’s called the rule of 17, a super-minority,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent.

From the Washington State Secretary of State’s website:

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 1366 concerns state taxes and fees.

This measure would decrease the sales tax rate unless the legislature refers to voters a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and legislative approval for fee increases.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would decrease the state retail sales tax rate on April 15, 2016, from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent. The sales tax rate would not be decreased if, by April 15, 2016, two-thirds of both legislative houses refer to the ballot a vote on a constitutional amendment that requires two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and majority legislative approval to set the amount of a fee increase.

View Complete Text PDF

Initiative 1366 is an Ted Cruz style of coercion measure, threatening to remove $1 billion a year in revenue from the state budget. It would severely cripple funding for education in this state.  It is a libertarian ant- government, anti-tax initiative intended  to lock in tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy and severely limit funding of public services by requiring a 2/3 vote to raise revenue or repeal tax loopholes.

Do not sign or support or vote for Initiative 1366!