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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

State gets grade adjustment of voter guide

OLYMPIA -- Like a college student keeping a watchful eye on the GPA, the Secretary of State's office successfully argued for a higher grade and got an A on its voter guide.

The grader in question, Ballotpedia, had to admit it missed a feature worth 17 percent of the final grade. . . 

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. . . The political watchdog website believes a good voters pamphlet should have six features when it comes to statewide initiatives: the official ballot language, a neutral explanation, the fiscal impact, arguments for and against, the full text of the measure, and printing in languages other than English.

Get all six, get an A. Washington does all 6, but it got a B, for 5 of 6, when the grades were first released last month, for failing to provide the text of the measure

What the. . . ? state elections officials apparently said. As anyone who has waded through a Washington Voter's Pamphlet knows, the state will kill a small forest of trees if necessary to print the full text of long ballot measures, complete with additions and deletions to current law, even though 99 percent of voters won't read it.  

They contacted Ballotpedia to point this out -- well, not the killing of the forest part, but the printing of the text part -- and this week the website raised the grade to 6 of 6, adding to three other states graded Excellent: California, Alaska and Nevada.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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