There has been much concern about signature gathering for our initiatives in this election cycle. As of this writing none of these have reached the necessary signatures to get on the ballot or be presented to the legislature.

Following are 4 statewide initiatives trying to qualify to make the ballot.

The anti-gun-rights initiative Initiative 1639. Initiative 1639 here
The carbon tax initiative Initiative 1631.  Initiative 1631 here
The no-grocery-tax initiative Initiative 1635. Initiative 1635 here
The $30 Tabs Initiative Initiative 976. Initiative 976 here

Tim Eyman

Tim Eyman not only runs State Initiative campaigns but also works hard to protect the Initiative Process mandated by our State Constitution. The following is his synopsis on “Paid” Signature gatherers.

Tim Eyman:

Friday, June 22,2018


Every year there’s a lot of uninformed discussion about paid signature gathering because few people know how it works (and that lack of knowledge fosters fear and demonization).

Let’s start with the basics: a paid petitioner who is collecting signatures for an initiative you disagree with is Satan, a paid petitioner working on an initiative you agree with is doing the Lord’s work. We hate the people who help our enemies, we love the people who help our friends. It’s human nature.

What makes this year tough for some people is there are petitions for “good” initiatives getting collected by the same people who are getting signatures for “bad” initiatives.

The anti-gun-rights initiative, the carbon tax initiative, the no grocery tax initiative, and our $30 tabs initiative — most paid petitioners are carrying all of them.

I was on Lars Larson’s radio show earlier this week, and I tried to illustrate the situation with this comparison:

You walk into a grocery store and you’ll find ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and relish sitting side-by-side on the same shelf. Do we trust customers to tell the difference between them? Of course we do. Why? Because people aren’t stupid….

It’s no different with initiatives. Paid petitioners are servicing their customers by giving them the chance to sign petitions. Some of their customers will support one of the initiatives, others will support 2, others 3, and some all 4. So a paid petitioner will carry all 4 so that all their customers — voters — have the chance to sign the petitions they want to.

There’s nothing dirty or unseemly or hypocritical about a paid petitioner offering voters the chance to sign all 4 petitions. It’s not about whether the paid petitioner “supports” all 4 — it’s about the customer. When standing in front of a store all day long, a paid petitioner has hundreds of voters walking by and every one of them has a different set of values. Everyone is different. So a paid petitioner — a good one — wants to be able to service each person individually.

Each petition for each initiative spells out exactly what it does. Each petition has a warning on it. Each petition has the ballot title and summary describing it on the front of the petition. On the back is the initiative text.

And what are the best paid petitioners doing? This:  They are offering the absolute most popular initiative ever first: bringing back our $30 tabs.


The worry and concern by some is that voters will sign our $30 tabs petition and then the paid petitioner will offer them the other 3 petitions and those $30 tabs voters will blindly sign the others.

My experience over the past 20 years informs me that voters are discerning and hesitant and skeptical to sign anything. The voters-are-sheep argument falls flat with me. For a voter to take the time to put their name, their signature, and other personal information on a petition requires that person to buy into what they’re signing.

I don’t support the anti-gun-rights initiative, but I accept the reality that other voters do.

I don’t support the carbon tax initiative, but I accept the reality that other voters do.

I support the no-grocery-tax initiative and clearly a lot of other voters do too.

And I support our $30 Tabs Initiative and it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that a lot of voters want to sign our petitions.

So my hope is that everyone will lighten up on this.

We live in a free country where ideas we disagree with are going to be promulgated side-by-side with ideas we disagree with. Let us all have the maturity and the civility to allow all petitioners and all voters to exercise their rights.

What paid petitioners are doing is critical to our state’s constitutional right to initiative. Without them, there is no initiative process in Washington state.

Anyone who has done petitioning will attest to the fact that it is incredibly difficult work. To me, they are heroic people who deserve our appreciation and our respect.”