Editorial: Equal votes for legislators
December 30, 2010 · Updated 9:56 AM
The majority rules, unless the voters say it doesn’t. In the case of Initiative Measure 1053 approved by Washington voters in November, a tax increase cannot pass unless approved by a two-thirds legislative majority.
It’s not that we’re in favor of tax increases as a rule, but it seems unfair to give one elected member of the Legislature more voting power than another member. A person voting “yes” for a tax increase, for example, now has less power than the person voting “no,” because of the two-thirds majority law. It’s unfair, as one vote carries more weight than another.
This bad idea has long held sway in Washington State. For decades, school levies required 60 percent voter approval, giving “no” voters more power than “yes” voters. That stipulation was removed several years ago, but it holds true for school bond elections. Bonds still need 60 percent approval, meaning that “no” voters have more power than “yes” voters.
This imbalance is evident as high as the U.S. Senate, where self-imposed rules require 60 out of 100 votes to pass most measures. Again, “no” voters have more power than “yes” voters, because their votes carry more weight.
This country should get back to the basic idea that the majority rules, otherwise we’ll be in a stalemate at all levels of government. The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of supermajority votes except for approval of international treaties and the like. But for routine government business, even declaring war, a simple majority always prevailed. An important aside is that the majority cannot strip Americans of their basic constitutional rights. The courts must always be ready to assure this does not happen.
Apparently the idea in today’s political climate is to give more power to the minority so the majority of whichever party cannot fulfill its promises or carry out its agenda. The resulting stalemate makes voters think the Legislature and Congress are ineffectual and even corrupt.
Usually, it’s up to the courts to make things stay fair and balanced in America. Someone should take I-1053 to court on the basis that it’s unfair for one elected representative to have more voting power than another. Otherwise, we can watch Washington State get stuck in the quagmire created by minority rule.