Thursday, March 02, 2006

More on election reform

An editorial in the Seattle PI today is headlined, “King County Elections: Coming up short.” This headline should come as no surprise to anyone…except election officials.

It is interesting that while the public and the media understand that elections in this state are a mess, political figures have yet to grasp that.

Last month in a press conference,
Ron Sims said, “We don't need an overhaul. They (elections officials) have really pulled their act together.”

Was he kidding?! I am afraid not. And sadly this is the tenor for many of those who are supposed to be “reformers.” Sam Reed, we mean you.

Here’s another example, the Seattle Times today also ran an editorial titled, “
Restore faith in county elections.” The press gets it. They understand there is a problem.

These types of news stories and editorials have not stopped running since the 2004 election. Every week—and often every day—there is another article on this issue.

There is a tendency for conservatives to take opposition to the Washington state press corps. After all, this state is a blue, blue state dominated by the liberal metropolitan Puget Sound. The media here can be just as blue. But the media is not the opposition. They have done their job. They have reported every election nuance with utter scrutiny. Sometimes it is favorable, and sometimes not, but they have shown willingness to get to the bottom of the issue.

Many liberal blogs have offered sharp criticism of the
Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s proposed initiative to require all voters to update their registrations. Some of that has filtered into editorial boards across the state.

One major complaint is that this would cost too much to “re-register” all voters. I fret at the irony of this objection. Liberals are too eager to spend every drop of state revenue—and then some, except when it comes to elections. (Is a Beer Commission more worthy of tax dollars than a clean voter roll? I digress.)

It is truly time for real election reform to happen. The real opposition is elected officials who don’t want to confess their sins that the election system is not fixed. Why should they? Their political careers rest on this issue.

There are plenty of great ideas out there. EFF’s
Voter Integrity Project is at the forefront of most of them. I encourage you to read their proposals, they are worthy.

The media is one of the public’s greatest assets in this issue. There have been a lot of dumb statements (I reference Sims’ above quote), and the media has caught most of them.

The citizen is the greater asset, though. It is he who will ultimately decide the fate of our elections system, whether it be a vote on an initiative or a vote for a candidate. But it is the job of the citizen to pay attention to what the media is reporting. Our elections system is not fixed, and previous efforts for “reform” are bunk.

Cost should be a secondary evaluation to need. Coming from a true conservative, that should say a lot about the state of our elections.

We need real election reform now.

For solutions to our election woes, visit the links below:
::Balloting rolls will be wrong until every voter in state registers again
::Washington state’s new voter database is flawed
::New state voter database still has major problems

::Cole joins Respectfully Republican as contributor

You can now catch my posts on the blog, Respectfully Republican. I will be contributing exclusives there periodically and will cross-blog my posts from here.

Respectfully Republican has traditionally been a College Republican blog maintained by the Pacific Lutheran University CRs. It recently underwent a facelift and is now branded as a Young Republican blog, with new contributors and a wider range of issue content.

I am excited to join them as a contributor and I encourage my readers to also wander over there for more great commentary on an astute blend of state and national issues.

See you over there!

AFL-CIO rejects guest worker program

Reuters reports that the AFL-CIO rejects the US guest worker program. This is none too surprising; though I am a little shocked that it took them so long to decide this...aren’t they two years late on this?

Actually, this union policy makes sense. If immigrant workers are allowed in the country under this program, they can’t really join unions and pay dues. This means there are jobs being filled that the AFL-CIO (the largest worker union in the nation, they like to brag) can’t profiteer from.

After all, a union is a business, and what a better way to profit in capitalism than to snuff out any competition? I just wonder if it has occurred to the unions that perhaps the guest worker program is their own doing. Maybe if the union wage demands on corporations weren’t so high, maybe some companies could offer jobs to U.S. residents only and actually afford to pay them.

Sigh. I guess business is business.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Legislative Gag Order

The Democrat controlled legislature does not like limits. It doesn’t care for the vox populi or the mandates imposed on them by citizens. This session, Democrats in the legislature have tried their best to stifle opposition to their rash agenda. No, I am not talking about their heinous success in censoring Republicans from criticizing their budget, though that counts, too. I mean that they have taken several disgraceful actions toward limiting the right of the people to participate in democracy.

Here’s what’s gone down this session. This shouldn’t make Joe Citizen happy.

If you hate opposition, eliminate it
Early in the session Senator Ken Jacobson, a longtime Democrat legislator from Seattle proposed
SJR 8201 to eliminate our power of initiative and referendum. Jacobson said that initiatives undermine America’s republican form of government. Though Jacobson seems to have forgotten that a republican government means you actually represent citizens of the state. Should the legislature take this into account, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many initiatives.

If you can’t eliminate initiatives, the stick an e-clause on it
SJR 8201 quickly failed in committee, mostly due to political posturing. So, the Dems reverted back to last year’s session trend, the emergency clause.

This clause is intended to be used only when the health or safety of state citizens is at risk. Most new laws do not take effect until 90 days after the legislative session adjourns. This allows citizens time to gather signatures to file a referendum (remember, one of those things Jacobson hates). Our state democracy is designed so that citizens ultimately have the final say on whether or not a measure becomes law. When an emergency clause is enacted on a bill, the right to referendum is denied.

This year, the abuse of the emergency clause has again been rampant. When Rep. Toby Nixon (R-Kirkland)
introduced legislation to prevent the abuse of the emergency clause, Speaker Frank Chopp quickly killed it. In return, he asked members to “govern themselves” when using it. This reeks of dirty politics. The Democrats don’t want to eliminate the emergency clause; it’s their bread and butter for ensuring that their arrogance of power is not overturned by the people they are supposed to represent.

The slow death of I-601
In order to make legal their “tax-and-spend” “shell game” (I use these words copiously here since Republicans in the House have been
censored), Democrats have to first further gut I-601. SB 6896 and PSHB 2552 would accomplish this. These two bills are supposed to appropriate money into savings accounts. Under the guise of fiscal foresight though, these bills are deceiving. The intent of them is not to truly save money, but to artificially inflate the 601 spending limit. What’s worse, the emergency clause again makes an encore appearance on both these bills. I am sniffing and sniffing but still don’t smell any smoke! Where’s the emergency?

Senator Joe Zarelli (R-Ridgefield) is leading the charge against these two bills by proposing a series of amendments to eliminate the emergency clause, changes the bill titles to show true effect, and prevents I-601 from being gutted. A vote in the Senate is due any day now.

I am beginning to think that when Tim Eyman showed up to a Senate hearing in January wearing handcuffs and duct tape over his mouth was more than just a political stunt. It now seems to be a valid analogy of what’s going on in Olympia.