Kudos to Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) for introducing a bill, HB 1087, that would prohibit paying signature gatherers on a per-signature basis.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature finds that the preservation of the integrity of the initiative and referendum process is of utmost importance to the citizens of Washington. In Prete v. Bradbury, the court of appeals for the ninth circuit concluded that an Oregon law banning payment of electoral petition signature gatherers on a per-signature basis is not per se unconstitutional. Courts of appeals for the second and eighth circuits have upheld laws banning payment per-signature in New York and North Dakota as well.
The legislature finds that paying workers based on the number of signatures obtained on an initiative or referendum petition increases the possibility of fraud in the signature gathering process. This practice may encourage the signature gatherer to misrepresent a ballot measure, to apply undue pressure on a person to sign a petition that the person is not qualified to sign, to encourage signing even if the person has previously signed, or to invite forgery. To protect the process from fraudulent practices, compensation per-signature needs to be addressed in Washington.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 29A.84 RCW to read as follows:
A person who pays or receives consideration based on the number of signatures obtained on an initiative or referendum petition is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable to the same extent as a misdemeanor that is punishable under RCW 9A.20.021.
My buddy Tim Eyman told David Postman that the measure is unconstitutional, and I guess Eyman should know, since he’s managed to pen and pass four unconstitutional measures himself. Still, considering the fact that a similar Oregon law has already passed constitutional muster, Tim shouldn’t be so cocky.
And speaking of unconstitutional initiatives, Eyman himself filed a new one yesterday, requiring a two-thirds vote for the legislature to approve any tax increase. Of course, the state constitution specifies a simple majority, so what’s the point? Yawn.