By Ralph Schwartz
Just now I came across a resource that helps voters in Washington state make sense of the sometimes confusing statewide initiatives that are on the current ballot.
The site is LivingVotersGuide.org, which purports to be a nonpartisan information site with fact-checking by the Seattle Public Library.
The site was endorsed by Columbia resident Flip Breskin, author/editor of regular emails with updates about goings-on in her charming neighborhood.
(We’ve been receiving Flip’s emails at home for six years, ever since we moved to Bellingham with a strong desire to rent in Columbia. Now we own a home in Happy Valley, and we are [what else?] happy.)
“It’s run by public librarians, who are GOOD at checking facts.They take no stance. They only check the facts. If you haven’t voted yet, I would strongly suggest making use of this resource. I’m a great believer of more light and less heat,” Flip said in an email from this morning.
Amen to that, Flip.
The site did help me understand what “repeal the elimination of a business & occupation deduction for financial institutions” really means. But not without some head scratching. The first commenter put his pro-bank-tax stance on the wrong (pro initiative) side, not understanding initially that you have to vote against the initiative to maintain the b&o tax. So you’ll find his comment on both sides of the issue.
Also, finding local initiatives by typing in my Happy Valley address didn’t work. You have to “browse by county,” after which the Bellingham Home Fund, the expansion of the Port of Bellingham commission, and the two Lynden measures show themselves.
You can also say whether you are in favor or opposed to an initiative, on a sliding scale. Either with or without expressing your own opinion, you can see what other users think of the initiatives. (The 2/3 vote for taxes wasn’t polling well. The charter school initiative was more mixed.)
The Auditor’s Office says you aren’t required to fill out all items on your ballot, and I’ve been of the opinion that people are better off leaving items blank rather than voting for a person or an initiative they don’t know or understand.
But Flip’s advice is to vote on everything, and to make informed choices. She hopes that’s where LivingVotersGuide.org comes in.