Best Laid Plans…For a Stolen Election?
by Dan Wood, WA State Farm Bureau
October 23, 2006
If your goal is to steal an election, what do you do first?
Confusion creates malevolent opportunities. (Yes, the voter punched the chad but it is still hanging on the ballot. What did the voter intend? And … Oh, what are those boxes over there? They look like more ballots!)
Such may be the case in Skagit County .
The law that governs how initiatives are presented on the ballot has three provisions. The first is a caption describing the ballot measure number and topic; second is a 30-word sentence description of the measure that is written by the Attorney General’s office; and third, the question asking voters to vote for or against the measure.
In the Skagit County ballots item # 2 was omitted.
How would you vote if the guide said that I-933 dealt with government regulation of private property? If you believe government already takes too much land from citizens, you might likely vote no. But for I-933 to pass you have to vote yes.
In Skagit County , the one sentence description prepared by the AG was omitted. Could it be because opponents to I-933 challenged that sentence in court? Our Yes on I-933 campaign had to hire a lawyer and defend the title as written by the AG. We successfully defended the language in court, but now it disappears from the Skagit County ballot. One wonders.
Skagit County Auditor Norma Brummett and her staff have known about the printing error since at least Thursday afternoon, Oct. 19. Yet neither the County’s website (www.SkagitCounty.net) nor the Elections Department’s webpage has been updated to include any mention of the problem whatsoever. No notice to voters. No press release. Nothing.
The Skagit Valley Herald did run an article entitled, “Ballot error to be fixed by mailing,” in its Saturday edition. But good luck finding that article on the web, either. As of this morning, both the Herald’s Home page and its Local News page featured an update about a month-old pit bull attack as the lead article. A search of the Herald’s website using the title of Saturday’s article as well as “ballot” and “ballot error” showed NO matches. A Google search of the title came up empty too.
To make matters worse, this morning we learned that the mailing to voters, which the Auditor’s office claimed would go out today or tomorrow, is now scheduled to be “mailed out no later than Wednesday,” according to Auditor Brummett.
Skagit County voters have had their rights violated. They are entitled to vote legal ballots. Why isn’t the Auditor taking immediate action to inform voters of her office’s mistake? Maybe it is because she is up for re-election herself ….
Pro I-933 Grassroots Responds
While acknowledgement of the Skagit County problem was hardly a ripple in news coverage over the weekend, rural grassroots emails were running hot enough to cook brisket.
The projected low turnout for next month’s election means that voters in Central and Eastern Washington will be a significant swing vote and could mean the difference in the success or failure of I-933.
All I hear today from the grassroots is anger over the Skagit mess. Is this another effort to disenfranchise voters in Central and Eastern Washington by setting the stage for manipulation of voter intent?
Well, we may have to win this election by outworking our opponents … Oh, wait, we’re already doing that.
The news in item one above has angered and energized our grassroots to even greater levels.
Now, continue on to read the next item and see if you don’t feel like going out and knocking on a few more doors.
In case you wondered, we appear to have missed the point -- the real solution to lost property rights is a statewide bond measure to buy up your development rights and do a little tweaking of the GMA, or so says the governor’s chief lobbyist. Keep reading.
CHANGING THE SUBJECT
In newspaper articles appearing around the state this weekend, a chief architect of the Growth Management Act (and No on I-933 leader) proposed a statewide bond measure to help pay for purchasing development rights from farmers as a way to address the concerns behind I-933, the Property Fairness Initiative.
In addition, the Governor’s chief lobbyist said they would explore “ways to tweak the state Growth Management Act” next session.
(TWEAK! He actually said TWEAK!)
I-933 is not about development rights or “tweaking” the GMA.
I-933 is about restoring PROPERTY RIGHTS. Specifically, the right to use one’s property as one sees fit, so long as no harm is done to others.
Buying or leasing development rights does nothing to address the buffers, habitat set-asides and minimum native-vegetation coverage requirements that are keeping farmers and other property owners from using their land.
It also does nothing for the farmer who watches their prime farmland wash downstream due to erosion, and it does nothing for people who are harmed when agency bureaucrats won’t let them stop clogged creeks from flooding their homes. (See the video of Grace Fremouw at http://www.propertyfairness.com/video.htm)
Farmers want to farm.
Any property owner wanting to sell their land for development can already do so – under the GMA and local zoning rules as currently written. I-933 does nothing to change that.
I-933 simply restores fairness by giving landowners harmed by government action the ability to use their land in lawful ways or be compensated for the loss.
Once again, our opponents can’t win on the merits of the argument, so they resort to yet another red herring to distract the media and voters from the real issue.
But let’s not miss the opportunity to extend this invitation to the governor’s chief lobbyist to address the WFB annual meeting and explain what tweaking of the GMA he has in mind. We’ll be meeting in Yakima , November 14-16. The agenda is full but we’ll work you in for as long and you want to talk.
Helping to compile and write the daily updates are Pat Batts, Patrick Connor, Gary Joiner, Dan Wood and John Stuhlmiller. Its not a bad team when you’re trying to change the world.
Dan Wood is Director of Government Relations for the Washington Farm Bureau, 975 Carpenter Road NE, P.O. Box 8690, Lacey, WA 98509.1-800-331-3276 ext 109 - mobile 360-870-6018