Voters should protect initiative

In this age of highly divisive political debates, intimidation is becoming more prevalent. And in recent years’ state elections, more and more voters are complaining about intimidation.

Initiative 517, on the ballot in the Nov. 5 general election, would take some small steps to help curtail intimidation, and at the same time protect the voters’ right to initiative guaranteed in the state constitution.

We support that effort.

Voters should be able to sign petitions without being hassled by political zealots who let emotion get in the way of constitutional rights. Signature gatherers should be protected from those intimidators as well.

I-517 would also extend the window needed to gather enough signatures to put a measure on a given ballot. We support that extended window, too.

Extending the petition-signing window will help take some of the wind out the sails of political zealots who have previously stepped up intimidation practices as initiative deadlines loom.

The political process in our state, and indeed our country, was designed to give everyone a voice in governing. It was designed to provide a civil discussion of issues rather than emotions.

In recent years, petition signers and signatures gatherers have reported pushing, shoving, spitting, yelling, object throwing and other disorderly conduct.

There’s no excuse for that type of intimidation. And there’s no place for it in Washington state politics.

Our state constitution is clear: “The first power reserved by the people is the initiative.”

I-517, dubbed the “Protect the Initiative Act,” is a step in the right direction and should help curtail intimidation.

Vote yes on I-517.

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