Saturday, 22 October 2005

Local Elections

My ballot for the November elections came in the mail yesterday, along with the Washington State Voters Guide to the array of Initiatives and ballot measures up for vote. I've already written about my opposition to the foolish Initiative 912, and will be joining my fellows who are distrustful of the insurance industry in voting against I-330. I've not yet decided to vote for I-336, the lawyers alternative to 330. I like its promotion of transparency, but worry about the possibility that it may be too punitive of doctors in high risk fields. Both initiatives are outrageously long. It's amusing to see the 330 proponents try to leverage public distrust of lawyers in fighting for their initiative, as if there weren't a whole team of lawyers in the middle of putting it together.

One can do a lot worse than simply to reflexively vote against every initiative, as there is a solid argument that in a republic we ought to elect competent representatives whose job is to hammer out the details of public policy. I don't share the faith of some who think it's better to put everything up to a direct vote of the people, when so many rely on sketchy information to make these far-reaching decisions which often tend to bankrupt their states. In Washington State, the Resolutions coming out of the Legislature are a different matter, as the hammering out has already been done in a bipartisan setting. Certain legislative changes require public approval, however, and in the absence of compelling information that something is amiss with them, I tend to vote in favor of those. This year we have a Senate Resolution which I see passed the state legislative bodies with 46-0 & 90-2 majorities. Nobody is going to convince me that our legislators are that bad. Unlike the Patriot Act, which passed Congress by a similar margins, this bill is quite short, so there should have been time to understand it fully.

Our Republican Secretary of State, Sam Reed, who oversees the elections, seems reasonable enough, but I do take issue with this statement in the guide:
I urge you to research the issues, to prepare for voting changes, and most importantly, to exercise this great privilege.
He's included the right list, but if voting itself is granted a more important status than researching the issues we doom ourselves to undesirable results. It should read:
I urge you to prepare for voting changes and to exercise this great privilege, but most importantly to research the issues, so that you may make an informed decision. You may abstain on any measures or candidates about which you are unsure, and the rest of your votes will still count!
Happy voting, everybody! Let me know about the initiatives which may be threatening solvency or civil rights in your state.

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