Citizens of Washington may initiate legislation as either a direct state statute—called Initiative to the People (ITP) in Washington—or indirect state statute—called Initiative to the Legislature (ITL) in Washington. In Washington, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. Citizens may not initiate constitutional amendments.
As of July 1, 2020, 229 ITPs had been filed for the 2020 cycle. The signature submission deadline for 2020 Initiatives to the People passed on July 2, 2020. To qualify for the 2020 ballot, 259,622 signatures were required. No campaigns submitted signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office by the deadline.
The 2020 election is the first presidential election year since 1928 in which the Washington ballot will not feature a ballot initiative.
Two measures are certified to appear on the 2020 ballot in Washington. One is a veto referendum targeting the repeal of Senate Bill 5395, which was designed to require comprehensive sexual health education in public schools. The Washington Legislature referred the other measure to the ballot. It would allow the legislature to invest the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Account and the Long-Term Care Services and Supports Trust Account into stocks or other methods of investment.
A total of 60 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington during even-numbered years from 2000 through 2018. Of the total, 58% (35) were approved and 42% (25) were defeated.
Citizens may file Initiatives to the Legislature (ITL) targeting the 2021 ballot. The signature deadline for 2021 ITLs is December 31, 2020. A total of 259,622 valid signatures are required to qualify an Initiative to the Legislature for submission to the 2021 legislature and for potential inclusion on the 2021 ballot.
If enough signatures are submitted, the legislature must take one of three actions:
- The legislature can adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people.
- The legislature can reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.
- The legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the legislature’s alternative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.
A total of 61 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington during odd-numbered years from 1999 through 2019. Of the total, 56% (34) were approved and 44% (27) were defeated.