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Thursday, November 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Election Center

Initiative 1501, penalties for fraud targeting seniors

This measure would increase penalties when vulnerable individuals or people older than 65 are victims of identity theft or consumer fraud.
Controversy over the initiative centers on its provisions to limit the release of currently public information.
The measure would increase the criminal penalty for identity theft that targets a senior or any person unable to take care of themselves, according to the secretary of state’s voter guide. The crime would become identity theft in the first degree and be punishable as a class B felony. Currently, some of these crimes already are class B felonies, but some are class C felonies. The measure also would increase civil penalties to three times the actual damages for consumer fraud that targets a senior or vulnerable individual.
The measure also would change the Public Records Act to prohibit disclosing “sensitive personal information” of both vulnerable individuals and “in-home caregivers of vulnerable populations.” But the information could still be obtained by unions and government agencies.
Opponents say the proposal weakens public records law and is an attempt by the Service Employees International Union to prevent release of records that would allow in-home caregivers and child care providers from learning they don’t have to pay union dues.
Supporters say identity theft is a significant problem affecting seniors and that those responsible need harsher penalties. They also say the Public Records Act should be amended to prevent the release of information that could be used by thieves.

Election results

Option Votes Pct
Yes 2,004,399 70.88%
No 823,402 29.12%

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