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Monroe, Washington Anti-Camera Referendum Advances
Effort to put photo enforcement on the ballot in Monroe, Washington turns in double the signatures needed to qualify.

Monroe signature gatherers
Residents of Monroe, Washington are one step closer to having the opportunity to vote in November on whether or not they wish to continue using red light cameras and speed cameras. Monroe city officials this week handed over stacks of petitions to the Snohomish County auditor who will determine whether 999 valid signatures have been gathered out of the 2120 names turned in by Seeds of Liberty's Ty Balascio.

Last month the group handed in the first batch of 1250 signatures, but the count came up short of the goal by 375. A total of 635 signatures came from voters just outside the city limits, and 48 from validly registered residents who had accidentally signed the petition twice -- under state law, both signatures are invalidated in the case of duplicates. On June 9, anti-camera activists supplemented the total with another 870 names, which they believe will be more than enough to qualify for the ballot.

"An outpouring of support from across the community enabled the success we achieved today," Balascio wrote in a message to supporters. "Concerned citizens with no history in activism volunteered time to knock on doors all across town. Businesses supported our efforts to collect signatures in front of their stores. Many businesses placed our initiative on their countertops to collect signatures directly! Over 200 of you took time to sign the initiative, gather signatures from your neighbors, and return your results through the mail. We have it on record that over 2000 people in this community care greatly about the issue of automatic ticket cameras in Monroe. With this achievement, there is no doubt that the voters in Monroe demand a say in this decision."

The initiative also repeals the existing ordinance authorizing cameras and sets the cost of a citation to that of the least expensive parking ticket. Cameras could not be installed in the future unless approved by a vote of the people. That assent is unlikely, as voters have never approved of the use of photo ticketing. Last year, 71 percent of voters banned cameras in Mukilteo. Cameras were also banned in Houston, Texas; Baytown, Texas; Anaheim, California; and Garfield Heights, Ohio. Photo enforcement has never survived when the question is put directly to voters. Last year, 61 percent of Sykesville, Maryland voters overturned a speed camera ordinance. In 2009, eighty-six percent of Sulphur, Louisiana rejected speed cameras, 72 percent said no in Chillicothe, Ohio; Heath, Ohio and College Station, Texas also rejected cameras. In 2008, residents in Cincinnati, Ohio rejected red light cameras. Seventy-six percent of Steubenville, Ohio voters rejected photo radar in 2006. In the mid-1990s, speed cameras lost by a two-to-one margin in Peoria, Arizona and Batavia, Illinois. In 1997, voters in Anchorage, Alaska banned cameras even after the local authorities had removed them.

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