As Washingtonians, we value and respect the initiative and referendum process as one of our most important democratic tools. I-517 aims to make reforms to this process and, by using deceptive and ambiguous language, deceives voters into thinking that these reforms are about protecting the democratic process. The truth is that this is a deeply flawed initiative written by a few people all of whom stand to increase their profits if this passes. It is riddled with negative unintended consequences and is a bad idea for Washington businesses and citizens.
Initiative 517 simply goes too far
I-517 infringes on private property rights – Currently signature gathering is allowed on all walkways on public property. I-517 takes this a step further by making signature gathering a legally protected activity on any walkway that carries public foot traffic regardless of it is on someone’s private property and specifically writes into the initiative language “including those in front of the entrances and exits of any store”. This directly violates store owners’ private property rights by taking away their ability to control if, when, where or in what manner signature gathering takes place on their own property.
I-517 infringes on free speech rights – I-517 establishes a 25-foot protected bubble around a signature gatherer within which any type of interference in their activities is illegal and subject to punishment as a misdemeanor. This means that the general public would have no right to express any type of opinion on how they feel about a given issue or to object in any way to being subjected to negative treatment from paid signature gatherers without being in violation of the law. Additionally, storeowners would not be able to stop aggressive petitioners from blocking or harassing customers who are trying to enter or exit a store and would not be able to insist that aggressive petitioners change their behavior or leave their property. I-517 is only about protecting signature gatherers from harassment, when in reality, it is often the citizens who are being harassed.
Protect speech and property rights by voting NO on Initiative 517.
I-517 is intrusive
I-517 sanctions year round un-restricted signature gathering inside any and all public places in the state. This means that community institutions like schools, libraries, hospitals, zoos, and even high school sports stadiums and fields are not able to regulate signature gathering inside of the premises. Other public venues such as Safeco and CenturyLink fields in Seattle, convention centers and public fairs will also be affected. Petitioners are already allowed to operate outside of these venues as people enter and exit. But under I-517, petitioners would be allowed inside as well – in walkways, aisles, waiting rooms, even seats. Some activities such as picking up your children from school, or watching a sporting event should be free of political pressure. Washingtonians should not have to be subjected to constant signature solicitations inside of venues where they have chosen to spend their free time with family, friends and loved ones.
Keep some activities free of political pressure by voting NO in Initiative 517.