A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
hat is accountability? The old idea of accountability simply held that government should spend money in accordance with appropriations. But the new accountability is based on asking, “What did we get in public benefits as a result of the expenditure of money?” This is a question that has always been asked in business, but has not been the norm for governments. And those governments today that are struggling valiantly with this question are showing quite extraordinary results. This was certainly the basis of the successful reforms in my own country of New Zealand. New Zealand’s per capita income in the period prior to the late 1950s was right around number three in the world, behind the United States and Canada. But by 1984, its per capita income had sunk to 27th in the world, alongside Portugal and Turkey. Not only that, but our unemployment rate was 11.6 percent, we’d had 23 successive years of deficits (sometimes ranging as high as 40 percent of GDP), our debt had grown to 65 percent of GDP, and our credit ratings were continually being downgraded. Government spending was a full 44 percent of GDP, investment capital was exiting in huge quantities, and government controls and micromanagement were pervasive at every level of the economy. We had foreign exchange controls that meant I couldn’t buy a subscription to The Economist magazine without the permission of the Minister of Finance. I couldn’t buy shares in a foreign company without surrendering my citizenship. There were price controls on all goods and services, on all shops and on all service industries. There were wage controls and wage freezes. I couldn’t pay my employees more if I wanted to. There were import controls on the goods that I could bring into the country. There were massive levels of subsidies on industries in order to keep them viable. Young people were leaving in droves.
Spending and Taxes When a reform government was elected in 1984, it identified three problems: too much spending, too much taxing and too much government. The question was how to cut spending and taxes and diminish government’s role in the economy. Well, the first thing you have to do in this situation is to figure out what you’re getting for dollars spent. Towards this end, we implemented a new policy whereby money wouldn’t simply be allocated to government agencies; instead, there would be a purchase contract with the senior executives of those agencies that clearly delineated what was expected in return for the money. Those who headed up government agencies were now chosen on the basis of a worldwide search and received term contracts—five years with a possible extension of another three years. The only ground for their removal was non-performance, so a newly-elected government couldn’t simply throw them out as had happened with civil servants under the old system. And of course, with those kinds of incentives, agency heads— like CEOs in the private sector—made certain that the next tier of people had very clear objectives that they were expected to achieve as well. As we started to work through this process, we asked some fundamental questions of agencies. The first question was, “What are you doing?” The second ques-
Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 Address service requested
tion was, “What should you be doing?” Based on the answers, we then said, “Eliminate what you shouldn’t be doing.” If you are doing something that clearly is not a responsibility of the government, stop doing it. Then we asked the final question: “Who should be paying— the taxpayer, the user, the consumer, or the industry?” We asked this because, in many instances, the taxpayers were subsidizing things that did not benefit them. And if you take the cost of services away from actual consumers and users, you promote overuse and devalue whatever it is that you’re doing. When we started this process with the Department of Transportation, it had 5,600 employees. When we finished, it had 53. When we started with the Forest Service, it had 17,000 employees. When we finished, it had 17. When we applied it to the Ministry of Works, it had 28,000 employees. I used to be Minister of Works, and ended up being the only employee. In the latter case, most of what the department did was construction and engineering, and there are plenty of people who can do that without government involvement. And if you say to me, “But you killed all those jobs,” well, that’s just not true. The government stopped employing people in those jobs, but the need for the jobs Continued on page 9
NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE
OLYMPIA, WA PERMIT #462
Waste Watchers: by Drew Gaut
A few gallons on the state's dime
ith gas prices so high, access to a company gas card can tempt employees to get a few gallons for themselves. Most companies would be careful to check gas mileage, fuel type, and dates cards are used. Our state’s Department of General Administration (GA), would apparently rather not bother. The State Auditor’s Office found numerous examples of problems. Fuel mileage calculations showed several vehicles getting dramatically different gas mileage
than they were supposed to get. At least one example of a gas purchase exceeded the vehicle’s capacity. Premium gas was purchased contrary to GA policy, and there were a few examples of diesel being purchased for non-diesel vehicles. The GA motor pool relies on credit limits to keep problems in check. If employees use the cards for personal use, the credit limit will keep them from going too far, says Sam Schofield, an internal auditor for the department. Apparently the
GA believes a few gallons worth of stolen gas each month isn’t a big deal. The department claims its lack of controls cost taxpayers $10,000 at most.This number is supposed to seem insignificant because it is part of a much larger budget, but waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars is never acceptable. The department also claims some of the problems were caused by gas station
attendants manually entering the wrong information when charging the department credit cards. Investigation by the State Auditor’s office refutes this claim. The Department of General Administration says its employees should be granted a “great deal of trust.” But trust only goes so far.
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“Quote” “Try to imagine a regulation of labor imposed by force that is not a violation of liberty; a transfer of wealth imposed by force that is not a violation of property. If you cannot reconcile these contradictions, then you must conclude that the law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice.” – Claude Frédéric Bastiat
VOLUME 16, Issue 6 EFF’s mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.
Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 email@example.com • www.effwa.org
This Issue 3
3 LETTER FROM LYNN FROM PAST TO PRESENT
FRIEND OF LIBERTY AWARD
4 UNION CORRUPTION REVEALED INCREASED VIGILANCE HIGHLIGHTS UNION CORRUPTION DISCLOSURE RULES EXPOSE LAVISH UNION SPENDING
5 6 7
5 JUDGE REJECTS A.G.’S CLAIM THAT I-601 IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL BREAKING WASHINGTON’S SPENDING ADDICTION 6 I STILL WANT TO TEACH MEMORIAL DAY 7 PUBLIC SCHOOLS EVADE REAL ACCOUNTABILITY LYNN HARSH SPEAKS TO NATIONAL AUDIENCE OF POLICY-MAKERS
8 ONE BILLION REASONS WHY AUDIT OVERSIGHT MATTERS ROMNEY’S PLAN: GOOD, BAD, OR UGLY? 10 THE FRIAS BROTHERS A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REFORM MAIL BALLOT SECURITY
12 POLICY CONFERENCE AND 15TH ANNIVERSARY GALA SIGN UP TODAY!
“The Frias brothers share a remarkable story that has shaped our country. Born of Mexican immigrants, the brothers were raised in the pursuit of the American dream.”
Pg. 10 The Frias Brothers
A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
LetterLET fromTER Lynn FROM LY NN by Lynn Harsh
From past to present
t was the smell of the place that first anchored me to the floor and spread a broad smile across my face. Sun streamed through the many windows high above the street and warmed the old wood panels covering the walls. This wasn’t pretend wood. It was the real stuff. You could smell it. And I knew as I ventured forth that the floor boards would creak a little under my feet. I could hear people on the floor below me, and I knew a bustling street was right outside. Still, for that moment in time, I was in a magical place. It wasn’t just the warmth, the vista and smell of the wood. I was surrounded on every side by entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors, and explorers. Their faces stared out from large photos on the walls. They looked like a serious lot, but this was, after all, the place where man and machine met to change the world. Wandering the room and looking into their faces, I tried to read any shred of wisdom they might share. In the quietness of my heart, I asked these men and women of a bygone era: “What gave you the courage to spend your life living your dreams, when you didn’t know in advance how it would turn out? What did you sacrifice to allow your vision to become reality? Was it worth it?” I guess I already knew the answer to that question. Large tables filled one side of the room, and it was here draftsmen melded vision with scientific know-how. No doubt some of their family and friends thought they were nuts—earning their living off someone’s wild imaginations, instead of punching a predictable clock at an establishment store. What did these men and women see and feel that was different? When it came right down to it, I guess knew that answer, too. Wonder filled me in the virtual presence of these intellectual and creative warriors of the previous century. It was in this building—the Big Red Barn—where Bill Boeing and his colleagues created the airships that propels so much of our commerce and pleasure today. Their work laid the foundation for travel far beyond the
earth’s atmosphere, and I wondered if it were possible that the draftsmen had an inkling of how profoundly they would color the future. Still, a dark cloud threatened to chill that sunny room. Would the current political and educational environment in America allow the same opportunities? Have we regulated, taxed and hounded risk-takers into the corner? Will our decades of mediocre educational offerings sap the creative and intellectual capacity necessary for American-made life-changing inventions? Yesterday, individuals ran this country and their own lives. Today, it feels like the rule-makers and tax collectors run the place. When my younger son rounded the corner of the top floor to see where I had escaped, he stopped, looked at
“...have the courage to spend your days living the vision that is larger than your own time, even though you don’t know in advance how all things will turn out.” me deeply, and realized something more was going on inside of me than a general appreciation for history. “Son, do you think this is still possible today? Do you think your generation can change the world like this one did?” I asked. “I don’t know. We’re short on character and education,” he opined. But then he reminded me of an important reality: the spirit that resides inside healthy human beings that propels us to be free, to create and to live a life with meaning. It’s so true. Many people who have gone before us sacrificed their lives and fortunes for the opportunities
FF President Bob Williams and Chairman Bill Conner presented the “Friend of Liberty” award to Raymond Hanson at a May 4 event in Spokane. Mr. Hanson received the award in recognition of his lifetime comittment to the advancement of freedom. Mr. Hanson is the founder of R.A. Hanson Company, Inc. (RAHCO). He started the company in 1946 with the patent of an automatic leveling device for hillside combine harvesters. Since then, RAHCO has developed into a world leader in the design field and production of custom commercial machinery systems.
we have today. They embarked on difficult journeys without knowing the final destination, or even if they would arrive safely. I think of the early settlers, our nation’s Founders, men like Wilberforce, missionaries and pioneers. Their spirits were agitated until they put one foot in front of another and began their journey into a future whose outcome was far from guaranteed. My son and I were the only living faces in the room, but surrounded by the memories of those who had gone before us, I stared intently into his face and said in my heart: “Son, have the courage to spend your days living the vision that is larger than your own time, even though you don’t know in advance how all things will turn out. Do not ask for the answer before you begin. Sacrifice temporal things when necessary. It will be worth it. And many of my friends and I will live our lives endeavoring to restore the freedom you need to allow it to happen.” I said this in my heart, because he’s not ready to hear it out loud yet. But he’s an entrepreneur and evangelist, so the day will come. Besides, at that moment, he was hungry, and philosophizing with a hungry man is like spitting into the wind. That much I know. As we walked out of the Big Red Barn together, a smile from somewhere deep inside me spread across my face. Without knowing names and seeing faces, I knew thousands of other people in this country were having similar experiences—reminders to put our resources toward more important things in life than where we will take our next vacation; to take risks when necessary; and to restore and create for the next generation. My part of the next generation had his arm around my shoulders steering me purposefully toward the car and food. This boy who is now a man is the future. The battle we wage for freedom and opportunity—the discomfort and uncertainty we face along the way—that is for him, and his brother, and your children and grandchildren. They are worth it.
Mr. Hanson was joined at the event by his wife, Lois, and several proud members of his family. In order to pass the torch of liberty on to the next generation, Mr. Hanson provides each of his grandchildren with a subscription to Living Liberty. The Friend of Liberty award is presented to honor those who work to advance free market principles and preserve individual liberty—practicing ideals similar to EFF’s mission. Mr. Hanson is only the second recipient of the award in EFF’s 15 year history.
ion Revealed Increased vigilance highlights union corruption by S. Alex Bohler, J.D.
n 1959, the U.S. Congress enacted the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) to combat the corruption and election abuses so prevalent in American labor unions. The LMRDA established a regimen for tracking union finances, protecting the rights of union members, and encouraging both financial accountability and union democracy. Unfortunately, the well-intentioned LMRDA was not vigorously enforced by a series of Department of Labor (DOL) officials seemingly more concerned with improving relations with union bosses than protecting union members from corruption and abuse. For a brief time under the first Bush administration, the DOL stepped up enforcement of important accountability measures like the LMRDA and the Supreme Court’s 1988 Beck decision (the landmark court case that upheld the right of private-sector union members to refrain from subsidizing non-collective bargaining related activities). The limited progress was, unfortunately, short lived. During his two terms in the White House, President Clinton severely curtailed LMRDA and Beck enforcement. By gutting Beck and ignoring LMRDA compliance (as well as stacking the National Labor Relations Board with union apologists,) gave union bosses free reign to violate the rights of many dues-paying union members, especially those in federal employee unions. During most of the 1990’s, union members’ rights were trampled and the political power of union officials steadily grew. Tragically, so did union corruption scandals that had been allowed to fester over decades of lax enforcement. Enter the current Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao. Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001, Chao has steadily reasserted policies that increase union accountability and worker freedom. She has used her executive powers to appoint principled conservatives to DOL posts (extremely important) and had the temerity to enforce union reporting requirements that had previously been ignored by numerous administrations. She also proposed tougher reporting requirements, in the form of both LM-2 and LM-30 reports, that disclose how unions spend their members’ dues and where union officials get their money.
The DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) is the branch primarily responsible for investigating embezzlement and other criminal violations of federal labor law. The OLMS recently released its 2005 Annual Report detailing corruption and the numbers are shocking. Over three hundred embezzlement cases were processed in 2005, with some $23 million in courtordered restitution. If history is any judge, that $23 million probably represents the tip of the iceberg of money stolen or misappropriated by union officials. Some of the theft is staggering in scope and scale. Officials of Local 1740/International Longshoremen’s Association in San Juan Puerto Rico were recently indicted for misappropriating over $8 million in member dues for their own personal use and enrichment. They also underreported general dues by $1.5 million. Practically the entire union leadership was involved in this theft. Another high profile case involved officials from the Washington (D.C.) Teachers Union, James Baxter and Gwendolyn Hemphill. Baxter and Hemphill were found guilty of conspiracy, embezzlement, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, false statements on LM reports, and false union records. Ultimately, it was determined that Baxter and Hemphill (and six union coworkers) had stolen $4.6 million from the WTU! In Illinois, James M. Duff and William Stratton of Chicago’s Allied Workers Union Local 3 were involved in a massive scheme that involved $100 million in contracts it obtained through federal business assistance programs designed to help women and minority-owned businesses. The two were also convicted of not paying over $3 million in unemployment insurance premiums. Duff was ordered to forfeit over $10 million and sentenced to 118 months in prison. Stratton was sentenced to 70 months in prison and fined over half a million dollars. On the financial reporting front, nearly 3,000 unions failed to file their LM-2 and LM-30 reports on time. (This despite substantial training/compliance outreach effort by OLMS and a convenient new on-line reporting mechanism.) Union democracy is another important topic for union members. Often, little notice is given to union members before elections are held or contracts are ratified (The Washington Federation of State Employees, forced-dues collective bargaining agreement is a perfect example of “information obstruction”). This is a common tac-
tic from union bosses who want to keep their members in the dark about their financial practices and political activities. A prime example of union officialsanctioned election abuses occurred in September 2004 by election officials of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 951 in Michigan. Local 951 is the largest local in the state of Michigan with some 33,000 members. The complaint, which was largely substantiated by a subsequent OLMS investigation, accused union officials of “distributing and collecting ballots at worksites; use of union and employer resources to promote the incumbent slate; members voting in the presence of union officials and other members; and discrimination against certain candidates with respect to the use of a union membership list. In addition, the union failed to provide adequate safeguards for the distribution of replacement ballots, and failed to preserve election records required by the LMRDA….” While the OLMS is still fighting in court to void that specific election, the UFCW tactics are common place in modern day American labor unions. According to the OLMS, the Department of Labor conducted 127 election investigations and 35 supervised elections. Supervised elections are ordered when a union has such a poor compliance record that DOL officials have to manage the elections themselves. This process is extremely costly to the taxpayers and a drain on DOL staff resources. While these numbers might not seem extraordinary, keep in mind that enforcement of many union accountability laws was practically non-existent in past decades. The DOL’s increased vigilance, as represented by expanded reporting requirements, financial audits, election investigations, and corruption probes is a significant and long overdue step toward protecting the rights of union members. Unfortunately, the OLMS regulations focus only on federal unions, so most state unions are unaffected. State legislatures can themselves improve accountability and union democracy by considering similar state regulations to cover those local private and public sector unions not covered by the federal laws. When union officials know that they face yearly disclosure requirements, available on-line to the public, they are far less likely to abuse their considerable forced-dues power.
Disclosure rules expose lavish union spending by Michael Reitz, J.D.
hat does Tiger Woods have in common with union officials? Answer: they both play a lot of golf. The only difference is union officials get to play on their members’ dime. A lot of dimes, actually. Organized labor spent $1.3 million on golf in 2005. This and other enlightening facts about union spending are now public because of new disclosure regulations championed by U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation assisted the Department of Labor in drafting these regulations in 2003. Unions with annual receipts of $250,000 or more are required to file detailed financial reports disclosing union salaries, benefits, income and expenditures. As a result, union members now have unprecedented insight into how their unions spend their dues.
In 28 states around the country, including Washington, workers can be required to pay for union representation as a condition of employment. Their mandatory payments have underwritten lavish spending that often has nothing to do with workplace representation. The Center for Union Facts in Washington, D.C., uncovered many of these expenditures by compiling the Department of Labor’s reports into a searchable database available at www.unionfacts.com. For example, in 2005 labor unions spent $7.3 million on plush resorts, nearly $1.3 million for amusement park events, $148,000 for liquor, and $641,000 for sporting events. SEIU Local 660 in Los Angeles spent $153,000 on movie tickets. Ironworkers Local 40 in
New York spent $52,879 on a new Cadillac for a retiring president. The rank-and-file not only pays for these exorbitant amusements, they also fund generous salaries and benefits for union employees. While the nation’s teachers perennially protest low salaries, National Education Association (NEA) president Reg Weaver makes $272,170, with another $98,258 for benefits and expenses. Nearly half of the NEA’s 650 employees make over $100,000 a year. The AFL-CIO has an official chauffeur who makes $70,951. Continued on next page
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Disclosure rules continued from page 4 . . . Additionally, unions seem far more interested in amassing political power than representing employees. The AFL-CIO reported spending $49 million on politics and lobbying in its 2005 fiscal year—$20 million more than it spent on workplace representation. Although 50 percent of NEA teachers self-identify as political conservatives, the union gave money to numerous liberal groups last year, including Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Fund to Protect Social Security. These outlays
prompted the Wall Street Journal editorial board to call the NEA a “honey pot for left-wing political causes that have nothing to do with teachers, much less students.” These revelations show that financial transparency is essential to good stewardship. As a matter of public policy, government requires candidates and campaign committees to disclose campaign finance reports to voters. Shareholders of corporations receive regular financial reports. Requiring unions to disclose financial details to members improves accountability and reduces the potential for corruption. The U.S. Department of Labor’s new reporting requirements only apply to labor unions that represent private-sector members. Public-sector unions, such
as the Washington Education Association and the Washington Federation of State Employees, have no such obligation. State employees and teachers are required to pay dues as a condition of employment, yet are given little information about how dues are spent. The Washington legislature could adopt regulations to protect state and municipal employees by requiring their unions to annually file financial reports with the Public Employment Relations Commission. Then employees can decide whether their hard-earned money should be used to improve the golf handicaps of union officials.
Find out more at www.unionfacts.com.
Judge rejects Attorney General’s claim that I-601 is unconstitutional by Jason Mercier
n May 1, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge James Allendoerfer signed an order saying the state violated I-601 during the 2005 Legislative Session. The move came after the Judge heard a motion from the Attorney General to reconsider his ruling. The AG’s motion argued, among other things, that I-601 was unconstitutional. You may recall that during the 2005 Legislative Session, Democratic lawmakers artificially increased the I-601 spending limit by engaging in a $250 million “merry-go-round” fund transfer between three state accounts. The state contended this budget gimmickry
“Along with rejecting the constitutional challenge to I-601, Judge Allendoerfer said it was the state that erred, not him...” increased the limit—enabling legislators to enact almost one billion in new taxes and spending measures without triggering a vote of the people as required by I-601. Ruling against the state on March 17, Judge Allendoerfer said, “Here, the legislature exploited a loophole in I-601 for the express purpose of artificially increasing the expenditure limit so as to avoid a vote by the people on the new taxes included in the biennium bud-
get. The loophole, designated ‘triangulation’ by the plaintiffs, and referred to by legislative staff as a ‘huge loophole,’ and the ‘magic three-for-one provision,’ has the potential of trumping the intent and spirit of I-601 altogether.” Rather than simply appeal its loss in the case, the state wanted the judge to admit he made a mistake in ruling that I-601 had been violated. The AG’s office asked him to reverse his decision. While the state has every right to try to convince Judge Allendoerfer to change his mind, the Attorney General’s Office went one outrageous step further. If the judge refused to overturn his own ruling,
“...we all should encourage the Attorney General to drop the inappropriate constitutional challenge to the will of the people.” the AG wanted him to rule on the constitutionality of I-601’s voter approval requirements. This development concerns us on a couple of levels. First, the Attorney General’s Office is charged with defending the state’s statutes, of which I-601 is one (RCW 43.135). This is why it is shocking that the AG would attempt to argue that our thirteen-year-old, voterapproved taxpayer protection law is unconstitutional. In fact, had someone filled a lawsuit against the state argu-
ing exactly what the AG claimed, the Attorney General’s Office would be required to defend I-601. Second, as a voting member of the I-601 Expenditure Limit Committee, the Attorney General should be working to ensure state officials are following the law instead of defending their attempts to circumvent it, or worse, trying to have the law invalidated. Essentially the Attorney General’s argument was this: The state didn’t violate the law, but even if it did the law is unconstitutional. Thankfully Judge Allendoerfer wasn’t swayed by this argument. He rejected the AG’s claim that I-601 is unconstitutional, saying it was not an issue properly brought before the court. Along with rejecting the constitutional challenge to I-601, Judge Allendoerfer said it was the state that erred, not him, and ordered the spending limit adopted in November 2005 be reduced by $250 million. He also invalidated a majority of the taxes raised in HB 2314, with the exception of the cigarette tax. As was the case with the death tax, the legislature was able to circumvent I-601 by dedicating a majority of the cigarette tax “off-budget.” Immediately following the May 1 reaffirmation of the March 17 ruling, the state filed an appeal. As the case moves forward on appeal, we all should encourage the Attorney General to drop the inappropriate constitutional challenge to the will of the people. The AG is, after all, the people’s attorney.
Breaking Washington’s spending addiction by Jason Mercier
t’s always sad when you see a friend living a destructive lifestyle, especially when, despite your best efforts, he doesn’t change his ways. When it comes time for him to face the consequences of his poor decisions, there is no joy in saying, “I told you so.” Likewise, with the “breaking news” that Washington is facing a $718 million deficit heading into the next biennial budget, there is no consolation in the fact that legislators were well warned that their irresponsible supplemental budget would lead to future deficits. Throughout the 2006 Legislative Session, we pleaded with lawmakers and the governor to forgo the temptation to go on a spending spree in the supplemental budget, which is supposed to be reserved for unforeseen emergency needs. Instead, state officials enacted $1.3 billion in new “spending.” At the time the budget was adopted, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown had this to say: “When we get back to town next January, we’ll be in good fiscal shape.” With all due respect to the Senator, unsustainable spending is not a recipe for “good fiscal shape.” Real fis-
cal accountability would be budgeting within the state’s revenue forecast and spending limit, while using performance-based budgeting. With the damage already done to the state’s fiscal health, the key is for both parties to commit to the following budget blueprint (thankfully it’s a four-step, not a twelve-step process to break the tax-and-spend habit): 1) Limit state appropriations to the official revenue forecast (stop using budget gimmicks and fund shifts to balance the budget on paper). 2) Dedicate staff time to reviewing the performance of current appropriations and prioritizing potential expenditures within the revenue forecast and spending limit (instead of spending time to figure out ways to raid other accounts and circumvent the spending limit). This is Priorities of Government (POG) 101. 3) Use the budget as the legislature’s opportunity to set performance indicators for each tax dollar spent by
listing performance expectations in the budget next to the appropriations amount. The 2006 Supplemental Budget is a laundry list of ways to spend our money. Instead, it should be a blueprint detailing the performance expectations for each dollar spent. 4) Withhold budget votes until 72 hours after the budget’s public introduction. Lawmakers and taxpayers need time to adequately review and comment on the details. For Washington to get on the path toward real fiscal prudence, voters must demand their elected officials stop buying votes with tax dollars and start learning to “just say no” to unsustainable spending. Conversely, if Washingtonians want elected officials to stop working to bring home the bacon at other taxpayers’ expense, we have to get off our pork-filled diet and instead be content to feast on the fruits of a truly balanced performance-based budget.
is a bestselling author, awardwinning news correspondent and co-anchor of ABC’s 20/20 program.
I still want to teach by John Stossel
ast month, 500 angry schoolteachers assembled outside my office. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) was furious that “Stupid in America,” a “20/20” show I did on education, suggested that some union teachers were lazy. They shouted that I didn’t understand how difficult teaching was, and chanted, “Shame on you!” Randi Weingarten, head of New York City’s union, took the microphone and hollered, “Just teach for a week!” She said I could select from many schools. “We got high schools, we got elementary schools, we got junior high schools!” I accepted. I even said I’d let the union pick the school. I thought I’d learn more about how difficult teaching is. Above all, it was a chance to get our cameras into schools—something the N.Y. bureaucracy had forbidden—so we could show you what was really going on. But it won’t happen.
Memorial Day “It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country, in defense of us, in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives—the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. And all we can do is remember.” – Ronald Reagan
For more information on John Stossel's Special, Supid in America log on to: www.abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/ Like most of our dealings with the union, nothing was easy. It took weeks of phone calls to make any sort of progress. I suspect this will not surprise publicschool parents. Finally, the union picked a school: Beacon High. Unfortunately, it’s not a typical public school—it’s “special.” Beacon doesn’t have the full incentives or flexibility of a private school: It can’t go out of business, and it is burdened by bureaucratic rules and a union contract. But Beacon offers a limited form of what the union opposes: school choice. As with a private school, you don’t have to go there, and they don’t have to take you. Applicants must submit portfolios, and if too few chose Beacon, it wouldn’t be able to remain special. To remain what it is, it must compete. Recently classes of Beacon students took field trips to France, South Africa, and tellingly, Venezuela and Cuba. Beacon has rooms filled with computers, students learn to do PowerPoint demonstrations, and a class I watched had two teachers (one a student-teacher) for 24 students. Ninety percent of Beacon’s students graduate, while the average graduation rate for New York City public schools is only 53 percent.
I guess they didn’t want me to look at a normal public school. But this is the school the UFT picked, and I was up for the challenge. Who knows what I might have learned by teaching? My producers went to a meeting at the school to choose a class for me to teach. The union representative didn’t come, so we were told no decisions could be made. Lots of people came to a second meeting at the school: four people from the union, one person from the city Department of Education, and administrators and teachers from Beacon. They decided I might teach history classes and “media studies,” but they would have to talk to more people. You would think my teaching had been my crazy idea. I was only trying to accept the union’s offer. I prepped for my history classes. We had more meetings. The school principal had me sit in on a class with a “superstar”
“You would think my teaching had been my crazy idea. I was only trying to accept the union’s offer.” teacher. It was supposed to be a history class, but he seemed to teach “victimhood in racist America.” On the class door he posted a New York Times column denouncing the president for spending too much money on war. Can we say “left-wing”? Then there were more meetings. Finally, four days before what was supposed to be my first day of class, they canceled. Officially, “they” were the public school administrators who said it might be “disruptive” and that it might “set a precedent” that would open their doors to other reporters. Too bad. Letting cameras into schools would be a good thing. Taxpayers might finally get to see how more than $200,000 per classroom of their money was being spent. I wonder why the union even made the challenge. I suspect the UFT didn’t expect me to say yes. When I turned out not to be easily intimidated, the teachers’ union and the government school monopoly folded. Perhaps there’s a lesson there. But I wasn’t trying to call a bluff. I wanted to accept an invitation. I’d like 20/20’s cameras to see me struggle to be a good teacher. I wonder what else our cameras might see.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
PUBLIC SCHOOLS EVADE REAL by John Stossel
OK, some countries spend a lot of money and do well. hope the teachers in America’s public schools are more candid than their union officials and some of the pub- But that very same OECD study said that no fewer than 20 lic-education advocates and leftist smear groups who are countries that spend less money than we do achieve better criticizing my TV special “Stupid in America.” They are scores, and that “spending alone is not sufficient to achieve high levels of outcomes.” The United States spends $83,910 promoting myths: The National School Boards Association (NSBA) per student from ages 6 to 15. The Slovak Republic, which accused me of making a “sweeping generalization” about outperforms the United States in this study, spends $17,612 poor American student performance from test results from per student. The NEA also claimed I’m not objective because I a few American and Belgian students. Nope. I reported the results from the actual International Student Assessment make speeches for money. I do, but I donate the money to (PISA) tests. The little test ABC gave matched the PISA charities. For example, I give money to Student Sponsor results. Partners, an organization that pays for poor kids to go to MediaMatters, a liberal media watchdog group, claimed private school. You might say I put my money where my we fudged per-pupil spending numbers when we said per- mouth is—unlike the teachers’ organizations, which often pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, has doubled to “more put their mouths where the money is. than $10,000 per pupil per year.” They point to the “most Perhaps the most fundamentally flawed idea is this allrecent” 2003 U.S. Census figure of $8,019 per pupil as a too-common one: “Public schools were created to provide “gotcha.” In fact, the estimates for a ‘public good’: education for all, 2004-05 from the U.S. Department “They don’t get it. Competition regardless of a family’s ability to of Education are well over $10,000 pay ... By contrast, under a voucher brings accountability. per pupil. Even using MediaMatters’ system that gives public dollars to Private schools may be own number, it is irrefutable that completely unmonitored private per-pupil spending has doubled ‘unmonitored’ by bureaucrats, schools, there is no such right to during the last 30 years. expect or demand accountability but they face the most The NSBA claims “America’s for student performance or how public schools outperform private demanding kind of supervision tax dollars are spent.” schools when variables ... are They don’t get it. Competition our society provides: a controlled.” This must refer to the brings accountability. market full of freely choosing recent study done at the University Private schools may be individuals.” of Illinois, comparing fourth- and “unmonitored” by bureaucrats, eighth-grade math scores. but they face the most demanding That study actually showed that public school students kind of supervision our society provides: a market full of performed worse, but after the researchers used regression freely choosing individuals. analysis to “control” for race/ethnicity, gender, disability, Parents’ desire for a good education for their children limited English proficiency, and school location, they is a much more powerful check on schools than any manage to conclude that public school students outperform politician’s law or union rule. The people who want to private and charter school students. control every young American’s education like to talk When studying education performance, it is far more about accountability, but what they want is to make schools accurate to compare schools using random assignment— accountable to anointed bureaucrats who think they know using kids assigned schools by lottery so that those attending what’s best for all of us. They evade real accountability public and private schools come from the same population. —the kind of accountability where if a student or parent Eight such random-assignment studies have been done. All realizes a school isn’t doing its job, he can find another eight find that private school students did better. one. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) objects I could go on; there are plenty of myths. But the most that I “conveniently” failed to note that an Organization important point to remember is quite simple: If public for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) schools are good, they have nothing to fear from school study found that “the six countries that spend the most on choice. Students and parents will choose them. education as a percentage of GDP ... all score well above the international mean on the PISA.” Award-winning news correspondent John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News “20/20” and author of “Give Me a Break.” This article originally appeared on townhall.com. It is reprinted with permission.
Come hear John Stossel speak at our 15th anniversary gala on June 1st. See back page for details.
Lynn Harsh speaks to national audience of policy-makers
FF Senior Vice President Lynn Harsh recently shared her knowledge with fellow free-market leaders from across the country at the Heritage Foundation’s Annual Resource Bank Meeting in Colorado Springs. The series of workshops and panels “featured more than 500 think tank executives, public interest lawyers, policy experts, elected officials, and activists from around the world to discuss issues, strategies, and methods for advancing free market, limited government public policies.” Heritage also partners
with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and State Policy Network to further enhance the breadth of topics covered and networking opportunities. In addition to hosting a labor policy brainstorming session, Lynn moderated a session on “Understanding the Tools of a Free Society: Transparency” and participated in panel discussions—one on “Developing Grassroots Networks for Change” and another on “Political Tactics and State Think Tanks.”
One billion reasons why audit oversight matters by Jason Mercier
ast month State Auditor Brian Sonntag released the 2005 audit of Washington’s $6.2 billion Medicaid program. The news was not good. Of the record 28 violations identified in the state’s administration of the Medicaid program, eighteen were repeat findings from the previous year. Why should you care? How about the fact that these 28 audit findings potentially resulted in the waste of a billion dollars? Sonntag said his office can’t tell whether nearly $1 billion of the $6.2 billion in Medicaid expenditures were appropriate. This is sixteen percent of all Medicaid dollars spent! It also appears some managers at the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) do not understand the severity of the problem. Consider the following comments from the state auditor: While executive management appears to be generally receptive to our recommendations, we found some managers are not always receptive to recommendations that could correct issues. Additionally, we have found some managers do not communicate the results of our audit work to their supervisors. This causes issues to go unresolved. We believe if corrective actions were initiated sooner, repeat findings could be reduced. More than $200 million of questioned costs reported in our audit can be attributed to this lack of communication.
This failure to communicate should be unacceptable to our elected officials. Governor Gregoire should make it clear that anyone failing to be part of the solution to correct these audit problems has no place working for the state as a steward of taxpayer dollars. Among the problems identified in the Medicaid audit: • The state continues to provide Medicaid services to illegal aliens. This led the state auditor to note: “Washington State is providing services to thousands of ineligible clients using federal Medicaid money . . . This is causing the nation’s taxpayers to subsidize Washington State’s noncompliance. Our testing showed that the state made $83,199,933 in questionable expenditures . . . Lack of compliance with federal regulations could jeopardize future federal funding.” • Medicaid payments are being made to individuals who are using the Social Security numbers of dead people: “Failing to verify Social Security numbers can lead to the enrollment of individuals ineligible for Medicaid. Such practices may cause the Department to violate federal regulations and state law. The Medicaid program is unnecessarily susceptible to loss or misappropriation because of the Department’s inability to identify deceased clients in a timely manner.” • Social Security numbers are not effectively being verified prior to granting Medicaid services. In some
cases, alerts from the federal government about invalid Social Security numbers being used are ignored by DSHS staff. “[DSHS} has not made progress in one area we see as critical: obtaining valid Social Security numbers for persons applying for Medicaid. The use of invalid Social Security numbers, those belonging to deceased persons or by multiple persons, is common in the Department’s records.” It is important to remember that taxpayers aren’t the only losers when state officials fail to follow the law. Since dollars are limited, individuals actually eligible for assistance pay the price when state officials refuse to enforce eligibility requirements. This is why, both for those the state is trying to serve and for the protection of the taxpayers’ investment in the Medicaid program, the legislature and governor must ensure that strict consequences exist for state agencies violating the law. When combined with the fact that so many of the problems identified in the audit are repeat violations of law, it is clear necessary oversight is not occurring. Unless state officials start providing essential program oversight, we will be subject to year after year of the same audit problems and the countless waste of taxpayer dollars. It is up to us to let state officials know we demand adequate oversight and corrective action. We have at least $1 billion reasons to do so.
Romney’s plan: good, bad, or ugly? It depends on who you ask. by Nathan Johnson
he term “universal health care coverage” is typically aligned with a single-payer, government-run plan similar to Hillary Clinton’s proposal in the early ‘90s. Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, however, seeks to achieve universal coverage through connotations of personal responsibility and the private market. Few state-level proposals, in recent times, have so thoroughly split the national conservative policy community. The cornerstone of the new plan is the insurance exchange or “Connector.” Described by Heritage Foundation as “an innovative mechanism to promote real consumer choice,” the Connector acts a virtual stock exchange of competing health insurance policies, where employees of small firms (50 employees and under) can shop for health coverage. The policies available in the Connector are expected to be substantially more affordable than current smallgroup and individual offerings because of the merging of individual and small-group markets, an expanded risk pool and intensified competition between companies. In all, over $1 billion dollars from the uncompensated care pool is being allocated toward subsidies for the uninsured, and the state anticipates no additional taxes will be necessary to fund the reform effort. Romney defends this massive subsidy to the uninsured with a suggestion that, “making the individual responsible for his own health coverage is a lot more conservative than a permanent program of government handouts to hospitals.” John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis recently wrote, “To avert the perverse incentives the current system creates, people who rely on the free care system should be able to apply those dollars instead to the purchase of private insurance and the accompanying private health care that private insurance makes possible.” Goodman has called the Massachusetts reform the first serious proposal at the state or national level that builds on this idea. July of 2007, Massachusetts residents must carry health insurance of some kind, or face economic repercussions through the state income tax code. The mandate rests on the ability of the new system to facilitate affordable coverage and will be enforced when that apex is realized.
Governor Romney has often touted the individual mandate as his centerpiece for creating personal responsibility in health care, saying, “It’s the ultimate conservative idea, which is that people have responsibility for their own care, and they don’t look to government to take care of them if they can afford to take care of themselves.” The CATO Institute takes a different view: “… an individual mandate crosses an important line: accepting the principle that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that every American has health insurance. In doing so, it opens the door to widespread regulation of the health care industry and political interference in personal health care decisions. The result will be a slow but steady spiral downward toward a government-run national health care system.” A third element of the health care reform bill is the provision for an employer mandate. As codified in the law, employers with a work force of 11 or more would be required to either purchase insurance or pay a maximum fee of $295 per employee, per year.
Robert E. Moffit and Nina Owcharenko of the Heritage Foundation discuss ways of avoiding the assessment: “This new fee can easily be avoided: firms subject to it need only offer their employees a Section 125 Cafeteria Plan and give them the opportunity to buy coverage through the new health insurance Connector on a pretax basis to escape the levy at little expense. Further, the actual assessment is likely to be less than the statutory maximum of $295 because the other legislative provisions in the plan are designed to reduce the demand on the uncompensated care pool.” Upon hearing specifics of Romney’s plan, Professors Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein of Harvard University commented: “This week’s proposals merely repeat one from 20 years ago when Governor Dukakis was celebrating passage of his universal healthcare bill. That plan imploded within two years, and Massachusetts’ new health reform legislation looks set to repeat that disaster.” The Economist offers this observation: “If the scheme works, other states will copy it. But that will depend
“Governor Romney has often touted the individual mandate as his centerpiece for creating personal responsibility in health care, saying, ‘It’s the ultimate conservative idea, which is that people have responsibility for their own care, and they don’t look to government to take care of them if they can afford to take care of themselves.”’
Tacked on to the flat assessment is a free-rider provision which requires an employer (with 11+ employees) to reimburse the state for any uncompensated health care costs accrued by its employees of more than $50,000 on the aggregate. This mandate was line vetoed by Governor Romney, but the legislature is likely to override that and several other less prominent vetoes the governor has made.
on how much it ends up costing. No one wants to use the word “rationing”, but this is what happens in every country with universal health coverage. That said, Mr Romney’s plan has more chance of success than Hillarycare ever did—which could help Mr Romney in 2008, when he will be seeking the Republican presidential nomination and then, perhaps, facing Senator Clinton.”
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“NZ Miracle” continued from page 1 . . . didn’t disappear. I visited some of the forestry workers some months after they’d lost their government jobs, and they were quite happy. They told me that they were now earning about three times what they used to earn— on top of which, they were surprised to learn that they could do about 60 percent more than they used to! The same lesson applies to the other jobs I mentioned. Some of the things that government was doing simply didn’t belong in the government. So we sold off telecommunications, airlines, irrigation schemes, computing services, government printing offices, insurance companies, banks, securities, mortgages, railways, bus services, hotels, shipping lines, agricultural advisory services, etc. In the main, when we sold those things off, their productivity went up and the cost of their services went down, translating into major gains for the economy. Furthermore, we decided that other agencies should be run as profit-making and tax-paying enterprises by government. For instance, the air traffic control system was made into a stand-alone company, given instructions that it had to make an acceptable rate of return and pay taxes, and told that it couldn’t get any investment capital from its owner (the government). We did that with about 35 agencies. Together, these used to cost us about one billion dollars per year; now they produced about one billion dollars per year in revenues and taxes. We achieved an overall reduction of 66 percent in the size of government, measured by the number of employees. The government’s share of GDP dropped from 44 to 27 percent. We were now running surpluses, and we established a policy never to leave dollars on the table: We knew that if we didn’t get rid of this money, some clown would spend it. So we used most of the surplus to pay off debt, and debt went from 63 percent down to 17 percent of GDP. We used the remainder of the surplus each year for tax relief. We reduced income tax rates by half and eliminated incidental taxes. As a result of these policies, revenue increased by 20 percent. Yes, Ronald Reagan was right: lower tax rates do produce more revenue. Thinking Differently About Government Our country had no large indigenous animals until the English imported deer for hunting. These deer proceeded to escape into the wild and become obnoxious pests. We then spent 120 years trying to eliminate them, until one day someone suggested that we just let people farm them. So we told the farming community that they could catch and farm the deer, as long as they would keep them inside eight-foot high fences. And we haven’t spent a dollar on deer eradication from that day onwards. Not one. And New Zealand now supplies 40 percent of the world market in venison. By applying simple common sense, we turned a liability into an asset. Another example: Representatives of the Department of Transportation came to us one day and said they needed to increase the fees for driver’s licenses. When we asked why, they said that the cost of re-licensing wasn’t being fully recovered at the current fee levels. Then we asked why we should be doing this sort of thing at all. The transportation people clearly thought that was a very stupid question: Everybody needs a driver’s license, they said. I then pointed out that I received mine when I was fifteen and asked them: “What is it about relicensing that in any way tests driver competency?” We gave them ten days to think this over. At one point they suggested to us that the police need driver’s licenses for identification purposes. We responded that this was the purpose of an identity card, not a driver’s license. Finally they admitted that they could think of no good reason for what they were doing—so we abolished the whole process! Now a driver’s license is good until a person is 74 years old, after which he must get an annual medical test to ensure he is still competent to drive. So not only did we not need new fees, we abolished a whole department. That’s what I mean by thinking differently. Conclusion There is an old Irish proverb that says: “If you don’t know where you are going then any road will take you there” this is not an acceptable philosophy for modern government.
Maurice McTigue shares the “New Zealand Miracle” with EFF members and Washington policy-makers by Jason Mercier
oping to encourage Washington’s elected officials that performance-based budgeting is an achievable reform, EFF was proud to host lunch and dinner events in Seattle and Spokane on May 4, with guest speaker Maurice McTigue. As a former member of New Zealand’s Parliament, cabinet minister and ambassador, McTigue was able to speak from direct experience about the benefits of requiring government to base spending decisions on performance outcomes. Attending the McTigue event in Seattle were former state Attorney General and U.S. Senator Slade Gorton, State Auditor Brian Sonntag, state Representatives Toby Nixon and Fred Jarrett, King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, City of Duvall Councilman Jason Gardiner, and many EFF members and donors. In Spokane, attendance included State Senator Brad Benson, Representatives John Ahern and Bob Sump, Spokane County Commissioners Phillip Harris and Mark Richard, Airway Heights Mayor Matthew Pederson, Liberty Lake Mayor Steve Peterson, Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple, and many EFF members and donors. McTigue commended EFF’s work, beginning his speech by saying: “I see much of the work that the Freedom Foundation does...and I appreciate the quality of that work.” Against the backdrop of Washington’s projected $718 million budget deficit and the recent release of a Medicaid audit questioning $1 billion in expenditures, McTigue spoke about his role in what is known as the “New Zealand Miracle,” sharing how Washington can accomplish the same results. Facing ongoing budget deficits and rampant public debt, New Zealand got serious about meaningful government reform in 1984. Budget writers asked government agencies and programs a simple question: “What did we get in public benefits as a result of the expenditure of money?” By answering this question, McTigue explained how New Zealand was able to: • reduce employees at the Department of Transportation from 5,600 to 53; • reduce employees at the Forest Service from 17,000 to 17; • reduce employees at the Ministry of Works from 28,000 to 1; • reduce the size of government as measured by number of employees by 66%;
• reduce the size of government as measured by share of GDP from 44% to 27%; and • reduce the size of government as measured by share of debt from 65% of GDP to 10%. Describing why government must focus on performance, McTigue identified five questions every government official must answer before starting or continuing a program: 1. Where is the evidence that the problem exists? 2. Who is already doing something about this problem? 3. Where is the evidence that this proposal/program will fix the problem? 4. How much will it cost and is this the best use of this money at this time? 5. When will the problem be eliminated? McTigue concluded his speech by saying, “There is an old Irish proverb that says: ‘If you don’t know where you are going then any road will take you there.’ This is not an acceptable philosophy for modern government.” We wholeheartedly agree. Thanks to the trailblazing of New Zealand, performance-based budgeting is not simply a good idea, it’s a tried and true reform with tangible results. Hopefully next time Maurice McTigue visits the state, it will be to talk about the “Washington Miracle.”
To view a video of the complete McTigue speech, please visit: www.effwa.org
THE FRIAS BROTHERS A Memorial Day Tribute
uch of the American landscape has been painted in broad strokes, shaped by great events in history and displayed in a legacy of memories. Yet, it is the details—the often unnoticed events—that have truly defined our strength as one of history’s great civilizations. Recently, another great American passed away. Joseph Frias was one of seven brothers who served in World War II simultaneously. His story, along with those of his other six soldier-brothers, is one that truly defines Americanism. Joseph was the only one of his brothers to serve in the Navy. The other brothers, Lee, Ben, John, Fred, Phil and Henry all served in the Army. It is rare that a family of siblings serve in the Armed Forces at the same time, let alone seven of them. It is even rarer that each would be deployed to the warfront
by Matthew Cole
at the same time. Remember the film Saving Private Ryan? The crux of the film is that all but one of three brothers are killed in action, and a small squad is sent out the retrieve the surviving son to bring him home to his family. The movie itself is based on the real-life Niland family in which three of four brothers were killed. The Frias brothers, like the Nilands, share a remarkable story that has shaped our country. Born of Mexican immigrants, the brothers were raised to the pursue the American dream. When war broke out and America was inevitably committed, all seven brothers signed up to go. Joseph, who would later retire from the Navy as a Chief Boatswains Mate, served in the Pacific Theatre— as would Fred and Phil. John worked at a U.S.-run POW camp for German captives.
3Mail Ballot Security RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REFORM
Recommendation #3: EFF has a three-part recommendation on mail ballot security. First, counties should not change to a complete vote-by-mail system, due to an inherent lack of security. Second, because many counties have already taken this step, EFF recommends the legislature immediately increase mail ballot security by requiring voters to provide a signature plus an additional form of identification. Third, counties should cease the practice of forwarding mail ballots.
model election system securely and accurately distributes, collects and counts ballots, while also ensuring that all eligible voters are given an opportunity to cast a ballot. In the past two issues of Living Liberty we have included questions and answers explaining two of our top recommendations for producing this kind of model system: a voter registration update and a requirement for photo ID. We are continuing the five-part series by focusing on our recommendations for improving mail ballot security. This issue has special relevance for Washington as the state moves toward a complete vote-by-mail system.
1. Counties should not switch to vote-by-mail Question: What opportunities for fraud exist in a vote-by-mail system? Answer: Mail theft, ballot buying, voter intimidation and illegal voting are just some of the opportunities for fraud. Once the trays of ballots are dropped off at the Post Office, they are outside the control of the elections office until they arrive back in the mail. In the interim, many opportunities exist for ballots to be stolen, altered, or sold.
Ballot secrecy is jeopardized by mail ballots, as voters filling out ballots at home are vulnerable to intimidation by family members, employers, union officials, and others. Also, the elderly become a special target for vote fraud. Someone “helps” them fill out a voter registration card, then “helps” them fill out a ballot in every subsequent election. Mail ballot fraud isn’t theoretical. It has been documented in elections all over the world. Question: Is vote-by-mail balloting more secure than poll voting? Answer: No. The nation’s top election experts agree that election fraud occurs most often with mail ballots. Major reports by the 2001 National Commission on Federal Election Reform, the 2005 Commission on Federal Election Reform, an expert panel assembled by the Century Foundation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement all concluded that mail ballots present the best opportunity for election fraud. Question: If vote-by-mail is so open to fraud, why haven’t I heard about vote fraud in Oregon?
Lee fought in Europe, first in Italy; and then in France after the Normandy invasion. Ben also fought in France. Henry was sent to the Pacific shortly after the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. With Joseph’s passing, Henry and Lee are now the only surviving brothers. Their commitment to the American ideal was not even a generation strong when they answered the call to arms and left their homeland to preserve the freedom of others on the other side of the world. But the story does not end with the war. Each of the brothers survived, returned home to America, and resumed their lives. They married, had children, worked hard, and left a legacy of freedom. What’s most intriguing about this story is how common to the American narrative it is. They each fought for the freedom they understood first-hand. They served their country, and when they were finished, they spent their lives multiplying that legacy for future generations. This Memorial Day, stop and look around. Look beyond the wreaths and ceremonies found in every small town and large monument in America. The magnificent truth of our democracy is the sheer number of stories like that of the Frias brothers. We have a great history and a great destiny because of all the Joes, Lees, Johns, Bens, Henrys, Freds and Phils who devote their lives to the cause of freedom, painting the American tapestry in subtle strokes. As a people, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Frias brothers and to the many like them who have given their lives in the name of freedom. It behooves us to make that same contribution: Work hard, love our families, and serve our country. Live your life with an appreciation for the Republic many have died to save. Only then will freedom’s legacy be passed on.
Answer: A complete vote-by-mail system (like Oregon’s) makes it more difficult to uncover fraud. Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice has conducted over 180 investigations of election crimes, many of which concerned mail ballots. During just the past two years, state and local law enforcement have proven or are investigating mail ballot fraud in Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia. Many of these fraud investigations started after suspicions were aroused by unusual differences between poll and absentee ballot totals. Unfortunately, this kind of comparison doesn’t exist in Oregon’s all vote-by-mail system. All of the states listed above limit the use of absentee ballots, requiring voters to have a valid reason in order to obtain one. If so much fraud has occurred with such limitations, it appears highly unlikely that such actions have not also occurred in Oregon. Question: Does a vote-by-mail system make it less likely for votes to be counted accurately? Answer: Yes. Mail ballots reduce the ability of voters to correct mistakes. In a poll voting system that uses optical scan ballots (like much of Washington), ballots incorrectly filled out are immediately rejected, giving the voter the chance to correct an error on the spot. Under a vote-by-mail system, any voter errors that make a ballot unreadable to the scanning machine must be corrected by election staff or completely rejected. Due to an improper interpretation of vague state law, many election staff corrections are subjective, and may not reflect a voter’s actual intentions. In Washington’s off-year general election in 2005, over 100,000 ballots statewide were corrected by election officials.
2. Two forms of ID should be required for mail ballots Question: Aren’t signatures good enough for a security measure? Answer: No, signature checks are unreliable. While most county election officials do their best to perform Continued on next page
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Mail ballot security continued from page 10 . . . accurate signature checks, the changing nature of signatures, the sheer volume of ballots, and the lack of expert handwriting analysts makes it an exercise in futility. Photographic evidence exists of multiple ballots with obviously mismatched signatures from the 2004 Washington general election—ballots that were counted. Signature matching can be useful as one aspect of identity verification, but is completely inadequate by itself. Question: What other forms of identity verification should be required on mail ballots? Answer: Many different forms can be used, as long as they are a unique identifier that is difficult for someone other than the voter to obtain. The most readily available is a voter registration number, drivers’ license number or social security number. Requiring one of these numbers plus the voter’s signature would greatly decrease the likelihood of large-scale fraud. Such numbers are already required to be given on a registration form; the legislature would simply need to set up a secure process by which voters could obtain a reminder of their number if they lost their registration card.
Other possibilities exist as well. Arizona is considering legislation that would require a copy of a photo ID to be mailed with the absentee ballot. Election experts have discussed the idea of biometric identifiers, like a thumbprint pad on the ballot. Any of these ideas would be a vast improvement over the current signature-only check.
3. Mail ballots should not be forwarded Question: What is the problem with forwarding mail ballots? Answer: Forwarding mail ballots is a major cause of illegal voting. Washington state law allows counties to forward mail ballots if they print warnings about vote fraud on the ballot envelope. Despite this protection, forwarding ballots often leads to votes cast by ineligible voters—people who have moved out of state, or even just out of the precinct. Also, allowing ballots to be forwarded means the counties may not find out a voter has moved. In the 2005 primary, King County sent out 600,000 mail ballots, but received no reports on which ballots were forwarded due to incorrect instructions to postal workers.
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! y a d o T r e t is g Re
e1 n Ju , ay d s ur h T
With Special Guest:
John Stossel Award-winning news correspondent John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News “20/20” and author of “Give Me a Break.”
With Lunch Speaker:
Peter Brookes Author, national columnist and television commentator, Senior Fellow Heritage Foundation, National Security Affairs
Ted Abram Former Oregon Superior Court Justice
Sen. John Andrews Former Colorado Senate Majority Leader
Chris Atkins Budget analyst and attorney for the national Tax Foundation
Dr. Vern Cherewatenko Physician and president of SimpleCare
Dr. Bill Conerly
Bob Williams Former Republican nominee for Washington Governor and President of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation
Economist, Conerly Consulting LLC
Director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom
Mark F. (Thor) Hearne American Center for Voting Rights
Justice Jim Johnson WA State Supreme Court
Joseph Lehman Economist, Exec. V.P., Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Dr. John D. Merrifield Professor of Economics and author of The School Choice Wars
Steve Moses President of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform
David Preston Insurance Resource Inc., specialist in Health Savings Accounts
Michael Reitz Director, EFF Labor Policy Center
Justice Richard B. Sanders WA State Supreme Court
Lisa Snell Reason Foundation, Director of Education and Child Welfare
Host of the Kirby Wilbur Show on 570 KVI in Seattle
Published on Jun 1, 2006
Published on Jun 1, 2006
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