December 2016 Newsletter

December 14, 15, and 17: What’s Next for FDF and WAmend

by Cindy Black, Yes on 735 Campaign Director, and Fix Democracy First Executive Director

Take the Survey by December 14

In order to get feedback and ideas for focus going forward and gain input from volunteers and the leadership team, WAmend put out a Next Steps Survey. It’s important to know what issues people are interested in working on and how to support the movement going forward. Please complete the Next StepsSurvey by midnight Wednesday, December 14th.

American Promise National Conference Call December 15th

We wanted to also invite you to join us, and citizens across the country for a national conference call to share success stories from California and Wisconsin, as well as our own Washington I-735 success story with the rest of the country. The call is sponsored by our friends at American Promise, who supported our fight for I-735. Register Here!

Join the call on December 15th @ 5:30 pm PST with guests from successful campaigns on election night including Cindy Black representing WAmend (WA) I-735. So, join Americans from all 50 states on the national conference call and let’s talk more about how we amplify and replicate these victories in every state in this historic march to the 2018 mid-term election.

Meeting to Consider Merger
December 17th

WAmend (Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution) and Fix Democracy First (FDF) are considering merging into one organization. This is an important decision and needs to be fully explored. The leadership teams for both organizations will be meeting on Dec. 17th to discuss the possible merger. The benefit would be the opportunity to create a stronger, sustainable, pro-democracy organization to be able to tackle the issues needed to create a true fair and free democracy.

A Victory! Initiative 735 Wins with 63% and Makes WA the 18th State to Call for 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

by Cindy Black

Washington State voters passed Initiative 735 with 63% and now Washington is the 18th state calling for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, establishing once and for all that constitutional rights belong only to people, money is not free speech and political contributions need to be made public and allowed to be regulated.

I-735 Election Recap:
Initiative 735 won 30 out of 39 counties, 47 out of 49 Legislative Districts and all 10 Congressional Districts! This will send a strong message from the voters of Washington to our elected officials both here at home in Washington State, but also in Washington D.C. (For a full county breakdown for I-735, here’s a link to the
Secretary of State Election Results for I-735 page.) …Read More

I-1464 (Integrity Washington) –
What Happened?

by Alice Woldt

Unlike I-735, I-1464 lost 46.3% to 53.7% and in every county but King and San Juan. I-1464, the Washington Government Accountability Act would have created democracy reforms in Washington State similar to those passed in Seattle last year. How is it that blue, blue Washington did not pass an anti-corruption, pro-democratic initiative, but red, red South Dakota did?

Here is my take on the I-1464 loss. 1. It had  a really bad ballot title. For voters unfamiliar with Washington State’s D+ grade by The Center for Public Integrity, it’s likely the five accountability issues identified in the ballot title were too much and too confusing. 2. It had tepid support from progressive organizations. Volunteers and money went to other measures. 3. It was late getting off the ground and relied on big money from out of state. The efforts to satisfy progressives and recruit a transpartisan campaign delayed signature gathering and bringing supporters on board. Without enough grassroots support, it raised big bucks to get its message out: $4,266,035 to WAmend’s $558,481 (of which $128,575 was raised by Fix Democracy First for I-735). 4. The fact that Seattle passed an initiative with similar accountability measures was likely a negative message in other parts of the state. The growing polarization between urban and rural is obvious in election outcomes across the nation.

There are likely as many more explanations about I-1464’s failure at the polls as identified here. The FDF board is disappointed in the outcome, but an anti-corruption initiative passing in South Dakota is a hopeful sign that voters, regardless of where they live, are sick of the corruptability of money in politics, of lobbyists outnumbering elected officials and of the revolving door of government officials exiting to the corporations they once regulated.  

Election Integrity Update – Anomalies and Recounts in the 2016 Presidential Election

by Phil Harrison

The 2016 Presidential election astounded everyone with an outcome that no one expected, especially the pollsters and others who earn a living  by predicting results.  Election integrity activists and computer professionals in particular cited anomalies indicating to them that results may have been manipulated by election insiders or hackers.  One line of evidence is the significant disagreement between exit polls and official vote totals, which are available around the web, including the site of Ted Soares (http://tdmsresearch.com/2016/11/10/2016-presidential-election-table/).  Based on the anomalies, computer scientists, such as Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan have called for investigations and recounts (see https://medium.com/@jhalderm/want-to-know-if-the-election-was-hacked-look-at-the-ballots-c61a6113b0ba#.8layz2wez).
Exit Poll Discrepancies
The exit polls in four key battleground states (North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida) showed Clinton winning those states while the computerized vote count gave those states to Trump.  For three of these states, the vote shifts to Trump compared to the exit polls was dramatic — in North Carolina the shift was 5.9%, in Pennsylvania it was 5.6%, and in Wisconsin 4.8%.   The analysts maintain that these shifts are larger than the exit poll margin of error, which means to them that the likelihood of the shifts being due solely to chance is very small..…Read More

Proposed Washington State Law to Draw a Fine Line Between Protest and Terrorism

by Ken Dammand

Senator Doug Ericksen, (R, Ferndale) will be submitting an “economic terrorism” bill in the 2017 Washington State legislative session that  could threaten peaceful protesters with a felony conviction, five years in jail and a $10,000 fine simply for blocking a street or the entrance to a business if it interferes with “commerce.” 

While we’d like to think that simply voting and an occasional call to our representatives would result in popular opinion becoming public policy, it has never worked that way.  America’s proudest accomplishments have been achieved by people going to the streets.  Among these accomplishments are:  women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, ending the war in Vietnam, gay rights, etc. Demonstrations in the streets are often the only effective way to move legislation.

There is nothing innocent or naively well intended about Senator Don Ericksen’s bill. There are already adequate laws against violence and destruction.  This bill is an effort to intimidate people, stifle speech and further suppress Democracy. Period.  It should come as no surprise that such a bill would be submitted by the party that actively opposed virtually all of the above mentioned accomplishments and is currently working to dismantle them.…Read More

Women’s March in Four Locations in This Washington – January 21st

by Cindy Black

On January 21st, 2017 Washington will hold four Women’s Marches in Seattle, Olympia, Bellingham and Spokane in solidarity with the national Women’s March on Washington D.C. People of all gender identities, ethnicities, ages, abilities, religions, and sexual orientations are invited to come participate in this event. The Seattle March is expected in bring in over 20,000 alone!

In response to the election many people have felt scared, angry, or sad; but most importantly, this election has ignited a fire in many to stand up for human rights, democracy and to get involved in community. This is also recognized as a continuation of the work marginalized groups have been fighting for decades, and this march will serve as a catalyst for people to get more involved with those communities. For more information or to volunteer go to: Women’s March Washington State. 

Money Politics – A Personal Story

by Barney Burke

A year before I announced my re-election bid as a Jefferson County PUD (Public Utility District) Commissioner, people began offering financial support. But I decided against soliciting or accepting contributions because I believe money is ruining our democracy at all levels.

PUD commissioners set electric and water rates, and not accepting contributions is consistent with my practice of having no financial interests that could be viewed as limiting my ability to serve impartially. Besides, I told voters, you already pay me to do the job; about $35,000 a year. I personally walked to more than half the households with voters, wearing out two pairs of shoes.

I chose the Washington Public Disclosure Commission’s “mini-reporting” option of limiting my campaign to $5,000. That’s not enough to mail a flyer to all 24,000 registered voters, but it paid for some newspaper ads, brochures, and yard signs.

My opponent, a lawyer who works as a salesman for a local solar company, spent nearly $10,000 and won 62 percent to my 38 percent.

Would the outcome be different had we spent equal amounts? Hard to know. And if so, what would that say about our democracy?

Optimists may view social media as a counter-balance to the influence of money in local and national elections. Maybe it is. But it’s hard to imagine America’s accelerating descent into post-truth politics without the marginalization of bona fide journalism in concert with huge campaign budgets and our preoccupation with social media.