For Clark County residents to assume Nov. 6 is about four months away would be accurate, chronologically speaking. But for Clark County voters, Nov. 6 pretty much falls into the "just around the corner" category.It's not too soon to prepare for the fall election, which will present to voters more decisions than just those pertaining to candidates. In excess of a half-dozen ballot measures will allow statewide and local voters to craft the future of key issues such as legalizing same-sex marriage, decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana and meeting the local commitment to help pay for light rail and parks.
For races involving candidates, the action is even more imminent than Nov. 6, if three or more opponents are involved. Those races will be trimmed to the top two vote-getters in the Aug. 7 primary. But for ballot measures, the target date is Nov. 6, and two key developments made headlines on Friday.
Statewide, on the last day of the deadline, supporters of two initiatives (for charter schools, and a reiteration of the two-thirds-approval requirement for tax increases) turned in what appear to be sufficient signatures to qualify those measures for the ballot. According to The News Tribune of Tacoma, that means six statewide ballot measures are expected to be on the fall ballot.
At the local level, a key development is anticipated Tuesday evening when the C-Tran board meets, at 5:30 p.m. at the County Public Service Center. The board is expected to approve a ballot measure asking voters in the C-Tran service district if they want to increase the sales tax in the service district by 0.1 percentage points to pay for light rail operation and maintenance.
Also on local ballots, the Vancouver City Council has approved a measure asking voters for a 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value property tax levy to create a metropolitan parks district.
Our advice is the same you heard from that visionary teacher: Don't wait until the last minute to do your homework. As a voter, you'll run the risk of being under-informed and making the wrong decision when you start darkening the boxes on the ballots. Abundant news coverage will emerge in the next four months, but for now, here are some preliminary details about the six (likely) statewide ballot measures:
Regarding charter schools (Initiative 1240) and the two-thirds-approval for tax increases (I-1185), the signatures will be inspected, but the secretary of state's office is saying both measures likely will be approved for the ballot because each group provided sufficient numbers to indicate they will qualify.
Other measures that have qualified include Referendum 74, the same-sex-marriage measure that will ask voters to affirm or overturn Senate Bill 6239, which legalized gay marriage.
The marijuana measure is Initiative 502, asking voters to approve marijuana sales and use. Enough signatures were gathered last year for legislative action, but the Legislature did not act and, as The News Tribune points out, that automatically sends the decision to the voters.
Senate Joint Resolution 8221 calls for amending the state constitution and changing the calculation of the state debt limit to allow more state construction projects during tough economic times and fewer projects during boom times. And SJR 8223 would modify investments by the University of Washington and Washington State University.
More details are forthcoming. For now, voters should resolve: Prepare to learn, and then to vote!