Consider this a public service. That, after all, is one of the primary duties of a newspaper.
So, as voters prepare to ponder the various ballot measures and candidates for the Nov. 5 election, The Columbian’s Editorial Board offers a suggestion designed to save you a little time: Ignore the advisory votes on the ballot.
Yes, we know that will be difficult, considering that there are 12 of them and that they will be placed near the top of the ballot. And we know that we frequently — incessantly? — urge citizens to engage in their civic duty and cast a vote. But the statewide advisory votes are akin to the hard plastic container on a new toy — they are annoying and do little more than delay getting to the good part.
Advisory votes are designed to give voters an opportunity to send a message to legislators whenever lawmakers approve a tax increase. That, indeed, is an important function of democracy, but it is best carried out by contacting your representative or voting for or against them at election time. Our democratic system provides many avenues for telling legislators what you think without putting a pointless advisory vote on the ballot.
Advisory votes, you see, are nonbinding, which Webster’s defines as, “having no legal or binding force.” Some synonyms are “inoperative, invalid, nonvalid, nugatory, and null and void.” We don’t know about you, but when something is nugatory, we might try to avoid it. In other words, the advisory votes are about as meaningful as asking voters whether the state capitol should be moved to Amboy.