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Backers say confusion doomed Washington measure to create campaign vouchers

Amy Radil
Campaign mailings like this one would have had to disclose more about their funders if I-1464 had passed.

A statewide initiative to help pay for political campaigns with public money has failed in Washington. That’s despite supporters raising $4 million to pass it.  

Initiative 1464 would have created a system of campaign vouchers -- money that voters could direct to their preferred candidates. It would also have placed new restrictions on lobbying and required more disclosure on campaign ads. Spokesman Peter McCollum said failure of the measure could be blamed on voter confusion in a busy election year.

“If that ends up being the case, we’re definitely disappointed by that result, but we’re not disheartened by the outcome.," he said. "The results here have more to do with the very complicated language that was on the ballot for 1464 than it does with the initiative itself.”

He said 100,000 ballots were turned in with no vote on that issue.

The initiative would have brought more funding to the state Public Disclosure Commission, which enforces campaign finance rules.

“They’ve done really great work, but they’ve been slowly choked off of funds, and it’s made it really difficult for them to do their job," McCollum said. 

The initiative would have paid for campaign vouchers by eliminating the nonresident sales tax exemption.

That’s one reason the Washington Food Industry Association and Associated General Contractors opposed it. They objected to the vouchers and said eliminating the sales tax exemption would hurt businesses.  

McCollum said some of the transparency measures in the initiative appear to have broad support, and supporters plan to work with the state Legislature to enact them. 

Year started with KUOW: 2005