A few basic signature gathering guidelines:
* Write the county, and if applicable, your neighborhood in the top right corner where you live.
* You can collect signatures anywhere in the state.
* Black or blue ink only
* The address the voter gives should be where they receive their ballot. If they aren’t sure, their physical address is better than their PO Box as the SOS will always have the voters physical address even if they receive their ballot at their PO Box. Both PO Box and physical address is even better.
* It is OK if the county is abbreviated. But for example, K doesn’t work for King as other counties start with K. And WA is not a county.
* If a voter has just moved to the state or moved within the state they need to fill out a voter registration form or they can go on line and register. www.myvote.wa.gov Call your county auditor and find where else you can get the forms. Libraries, Post Office, car license renewal offices for example. They need to be returned within 5 business days.
* It is OK to fill in the information for people but you can not sign for them.
* If a 17 year old turns 18 before the end of the year and registers to vote anytime before then can sign.
* If an ex-felon is no longer in custody, on probation, or making restitution payments he/she may be able to vote. The easiest way to find out is have them fill out a voter registration form.
* If a voter signs their name where they should have printed it, it is ok. Just watch that the next person that signs doesn’t do the same.
* Don’t argue with people. There are plenty of people out there that want to sign. Find them. Education comes after we get the required number of signatures. We are in signature gathering mode.
* If a girl scout can sell cookies at an establishment, you can legally collect signatures. But many establishments won’t allow you to collect signatures anyway. Don’t argue with them. Report them to your team leader or field organizer. There are plenty of other good places to gather signatures.
* Be sure to remember to sign and fill out required information on the back of the petition before turning it in. This is easy to overlook but very important.
Some sample short scripts:
* This is not a Tim Eyman initiative.
* Are you a registered voter? This may be a poor choice as people will say no just to avoid you. But before someone signs you need to know if they are registered or not.
* Do you want to get big money out of elections?
* Do you want to overturn Citizens United?
* We want to be the 17th state to ask the US Congress to amend the Constitution to get big money out of elections.
* This act declares that Constitutional rights are the rights of individual human beings only and that federal, state and local governments should be empowered to regulate campaign finance.
* Help us get this on the ballot.
* This initiative declares that corporations are not people and that money is not speech
* Money is corrupting elected officials – polls show this resonates with people
* Our representatives take money from whom they regulate – polls show this resonates with people
By reading the initiative itself you can pull parts of it out to fit a script you may want to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
What will it take to overturn Citizen United and related Supreme Court decisions?
There are only two ways a Supreme Court ruling can be overturned. The Court could do so itself via a new case, or Congress, pushed by the people, can do so via a Constitutional amendment. A new amendment must pass by a 2/3 majority of each house of Congress and then be ratified by 3/4 of the states by their legislatures, or by 38 states comprised of randomly selected constituents serving in ratification conventions.
So far, 16 states have urged Congress to pass an amendment to clarify that only people are entitled to free speech rights, and these rights do not include unlimited, unregulated campaign contributions. Washington State could be the 17th. When public outrage reaches a critical pitch, Congress will have to listen to our voices.
What would the constitutional amendment do?
The Amendment would overturn Citizens United v FEC and related Supreme Court decisions, get big money out of political campaigns and overturn the Supreme Court doctrine that corporations have first amendment rights involving the funding of independent political campaigns that cannot be regulated or restricted. Many members of the WAMEND coalition believe that the amendment should make it clear that the privileges granted to corporations, and other special interests are not equivalent to the birthrights of human beings.
Is a Constitutional amendment the appropriate response?
Yes. We have amended the Constitution 27 times. Seven of those 27 amendments overturned Supreme Court decisions.
Will the proposed Amendment limit free speech?
The amendment would not limit the content of speech in any way. It would limit the amount of money that can be spent by individuals, corporations and other entities to dominate political discourse, drown out the speech of most citizens and corrupt the political process.
Does the proposed amendment limit freedom of the press?
The First Amendment treats freedom of speech and freedom of the press separately. The amendment would not limit freedom of the press in any way.
Will the proposed amendment prevent people from joining together into political parties, citizens’ organizations, associations or other groups?
The proposed Amendment would not change constitutionally protected freedom of association. People will continue to be free to associate with others to engage in political activity. However, the amount of money that such organizations contribute to political campaigns could be regulated.
Why does the WAmend Initiative include all corporate rights?
Corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution; consequently, they have no rights in the Constitution. However, over the years and through numerous court cases, corporations have successfully claimed constitutional rights when the rights and responsibilities they actually have are those mandated by statute in the charters they are granted by the states, not by the Constitution. The WAmend ballot initiative has no intention of hindering corporations’ abilities to operate and do business in accordance with their established charters.
Limiting the language of our initiative to First Amendment Free Speech rights would be tantamount to supporting corporate claims that they do have other rights under the Constitutional, which they do not. That is why we are calling for a constitutional amendment that clarifies that all rights under the Constitution are the rights of human beings only.
What Constitutional Rights have corporations successfully claimed?
- 1st Amendment Free Speech rights. Corporations use these rights, meant to protect human beings from the power of the state, to influence elections through political “contributions” (more like “investments”); to advertise for guns, tobacco and other dangerous products over the objections of communities; to avoid having to label genetically modified foods.
- 4th Amendment Search and Seizure rights. Corporations have used these rights to avoid subpoenas for unlawful trade and price fixing and to prevent citizens, communities and regulatory agencies from stopping corporate pollution and other assaults on people or the commons (e.g., prohibiting regulators from making surprise inspections).
- 5th Amendment Takings, Double Jeopardy and Due Process rights. Corporations use these rights to be compensated for property value lost (e.g., future profits) when regulations are established to protect homeowners or communities; to ensure they cannot be retried after a judgment of acquittal in court; to ensure that the granting of property to a corporation by a public official cannot be unilaterally revoked by a subsequent public official or Act of Congress.
- 14th Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection corporate rights. Corporations have used these rights to build chain stores and erect cell towers against the will of communities; oppose tax and other public policies favoring local businesses over multinational corporations; resist democratic efforts to prevent corporate mergers and revoke corporate charters through citizen initiatives. 14th Amendment rights, originally enacted to free slaves from oppression, were seen by corporations as a grand opportunity to also get equal protection. Between 1890 and 1910, more than 300 Supreme Court cases were heard under the 14th Amendment: 288 by corporations and only 19 by African Americans.
- Commerce Clause-related rights. Corporations have used this section of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8), for example, to ship toxic waste from one state to another over the “health, safety and welfare” objections of communities by claiming the waste isn’t actually “waste” but “commerce.”
- Contracts Clause-related rights. The Supreme Court ruled in Dartmouth vs. Woodward (1819) that a corporation is as a party in a private contract based on the Contracts Clause (Art 1, Sec 10) rather than being a creature of public law. Even though the state creates a corporation when it issues a charter, that state is not sovereign over the charter, merely a party to the contract. Thus, corporations became “private contracts” with the state and, therefore, shielded from many forms of control by We the People.
What can people do?
There are many ways you can get involved in this campaign. The WAMEND website – www.WAMEND.org – includes a tool kit of materials to learn more and to find links to the many other national and local organizations that are working on these issues.
Dig Deeper: Articles, Briefs & Books
- The Hijacking of the 14th Amendment by Doug Hammerstrom (pdf)
- Santa Clara Blues by William Meyers (pdf). Also in HTML format
- Taking Care of Business: Citizenship and the Charter of Incorporation by Richard Grossman and Frank Adams
- Personalizing the Impersonal: Corporations and the Bill of Rights by Carl Mayer. Recommended for lawyers or those interested in a detailed legal history (70 pp html).
- When Silence is Not Golden: Negative Corporate Free Speech by Dean Ritz
- Abolish Corporate Personhood by Molly Morgan and Jan Edwards.
- The PBS program NOW compiled some useful resources on the topic for this 2005 episode.
- Court Rules Corporations Enjoy Human Rights, Some People Don’t
- Monsanto Claims “Negative Free Speech” Rights Should Preclude Product Labels that Can Harm Sales of its Products
- The People’s Business by Charlie Cray and Lee Drutman
- Gangs of America by Ted Nace
- Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann
- When Corporations Rule the World by David Korten
- The Transformation of American Law 1870-1960 by Morton Horwitz (for those interested in detailed legal background). See also Volume 1: 1780-1860.
- “Corporations Are Not People” by Jeffery D. Clements, 2014 edition
- “Gaveling Down the Rabble” by Jane Anne Morris