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Trickle-Up Democracy: State and Local Ballots Give Voters A Say


Even in a presidential campaign where both candidates are speaking out against the influence of big money in politics, it’s easy to be cynical about the prospects for reform. The failure of Congress to take even baby steps in the right direction is enough to dishearten even the most idealistic among us.

But there is hope for our political system coming from the grass roots. Citizens across the country may well turn the 2016 election into a watershed moment for democracy. Using ballot initiatives to skirt dysfunctional national and state legislatures, these reforms would enhance the voices of ordinary Americans and send a loud message to national politicians to stand up with citizens for democracy.

Washington state

Last year, Washington got a D- on lobbying disclosure, C- on political financing, and C- on electoral oversight from the Center for Public Integrity. Voters decided to take action.

More than 328,000 Washingtonians helped get Initiative 1464 on the ballot to restore public trust in government by increasing transparency in political advertising, cracking down on illegal coordination between super PACs and campaigns, ending pay-to-play among lobbyists and contractors, empowering voters with an innovative small-donor campaign finance system, and strengthening ethics enforcement.

The initiative is led by a bipartisan coalition including the League of Women Voters and the Tea Party Patriots, along with 24,000 Represent.Us members across the state.