Educate Yourselves: Three Cases of Civic Education in King County Environmental Initiatives
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The state of Washington, and King County in particular, have a reputation for vocal public concern over issues of the environment, and a quick look at popular ballot initiatives in the state over the last half-century supports the stereotype. But most recent initiatives to the people concerning environmental issues have not fared on the ballot in a way that reflected support for conservationist policy. The inquiry driving this paper arose from the failure of one such ballot initiative, and the claim that citizens who voted “wrongly” could easily have “educated themselves” about the issue and voted otherwise. This paper argues that the people of King County have repeatedly received inadequate educational resources about the ecological issues at stake in local politics. The lack of such resources may have helped special or regional interests overpower collective interests in decisions on these measures.