Washington

Articles about voting issues in Washington State.

Washington: State’s new voting system concerns county elections officials | Aaron Kunkler/Kent Reporter

County election officials are raising concerns about the new Washington state voting system ahead of the Aug. 6 primary election while state officials say they have confidence in it. The new voting system, VoteWA, is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. This will allow greater security and more easily facilitate same-day voter registration, said Washington’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who has advocated for the program. “I want people to know that our system is secure and that our counties are going to be ready for the August primary and the November general elections,” Wyman said. Several issues have made King County Elections officials less confident. The state shut down the old voting system on May 24 and spent several days transferring voter data to VoteWA. Following this, counties double-checked the new data with their previous voter records to ensure accuracy, which meant they were not able to register new voters in the system until June 9. In King County, this led to a backlog of 16,000 voters, said King County Elections director Julie Wise during a July 10 meeting of the county’s Regional Policy Committee. “There was a rush to get this system implemented, and it’s not ready to go,” Wise said. “I know that that’s concerning, and that it causes alarm for people, but I do want to say we are working diligently.”

Full Article: WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials | Kent Reporter.

Washington: ‘Not ready for prime time.’ Washington State election officials sound alarm over new voter registration system | Austin Jenkins/NW News Network

County election officials in Washington are warning that a new statewide voter registration database system is not ready for the state’s August 6 primary and could result in some voters getting incorrect ballots or no ballot at all. The concerns reached a crescendo on Tuesday at a work session of the Washington Senate’s State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee. A panel of county auditors and election chiefs told members of the committee that the new VoteWA system is “not ready for prime time” and that they are proceeding with the primary election “on a hope and a prayer.” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, acknowledged that she decided to “go live” with phase one of the system over the objections of some county auditors, but defended that decision as necessary because of the age and security vulnerabilities of the old system.  “If you want to know why I made the decision that I made, it was I was so worried and freaked out by my security team that said we cannot keep operating this system,” Wyman told the committee members.

Full Article: ‘Not ready for prime time.’ WA election officials sound alarm over new voter registration system | NW News Network.

Washington: Problems with State’s new $9.5M voter-registration system leave officials racing to get ballots printed, mailed | Joseph O’Sullivan/The Seattle Times

County officials across Washington are racing to enter a backlog of voter-registration data into a new statewide elections system in time to get ballots printed and mailed by mid-July, for the Aug. 6 primary. That backlog — information such as new registrations and changes of address for more than 16,000 voters in King County alone — comes after voter databases shuttered for about a month while the state transitioned to the new VoteWA system. The software program is intended as a statewide voter-information database to replace the less centralized systems currently used among Washington’s 39 counties, which administer elections. VoteWA allows election administrators to see voter changes made across the state in real-time, which will help implement Washington’s new same-day voter-registration law. That law is now in effect for the Aug. 6 primary. But now, as election workers try to make up for lost time, they are finding the VoteWA system slowing to a crawl — and sometimes entirely shut down. On June 28, state officials had to take VoteWA, which now handles all Washington voter data, offline for the whole day, a Friday, and into the weekend. The situation prompted King County Elections Director Julie Wise to send home eight temporary elections workers who had shown up that Friday to help enter voter data. VoteWA — which has drawn scrutiny from Wise and some other elections officials after problems were discovered during testing last month — was down again Wednesday for a shorter period of time, according to auditors in Clark and Mason counties.

Full Article: Problems with Washington’s new $9.5M voter-registration system leave officials racing to get ballots printed, mailed | The Seattle Times.

Washington: Legislature considers removing barriers to voting on reservations | The Spokesman-Review

Washington could remove barriers to registering to vote and casting ballots on reservations, where voter participation is lower than the rest of the state. Committees in the House and Senate on Wednesday considered identical versions of the Native American Voting Rights Act, which would allow tribal members with nontraditional addresses to register and be mailed ballots and allow tribes to request more drop boxes. Problems with addresses and distant drop boxes prevent tribal members from registering and voting, said Alex Hur, who represents One America and Washington Voting Justice Coalition.

Full Article: Washington Legislature considers removing barriers to voting on reservations | The Spokesman-Review.

Washington: Native American voting rights bill proposed ahead of upcoming legislative session | WNPA

A proposed bill would allow the residential address portion of a voter registration form to be filled out with a nontraditional address. Democrat majority caucus chair, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, pre-filed SB 5079, titled The Native American voting rights act of Washington. “The Washington state Legislature has a chance to rectify historical wrongs with the passage of the Native American Voting Rights Act. In doing so, we will send a loud and simple message to the Native community: we recognize that civic participation as we know it today began with American Indians, and as sovereign citizens of the United States you have the right to have your voice heard at every level of government,” said McCoy.

Full Article: Native American voting rights bill proposed ahead of upcoming legislative session | Sequim Gazette.

Washington: State has new laws and the Air National Guard to help secure 2018 midterm election | TechRepublic

Changes to election procedures and assistance from the Washington Air National Guard are underway, as Washington state prepares for the 2018 midterm elections. After learning that it was one of the 21 states whose voter registration database was targeted, Washington is taking extra measures to stay secure. While Washington’s voter registration database wasn’t breached, rumors are swirling that those states targeted in 2016 could be targeted again in 2018, according to Danielle Root, voting manager at the Center for American Progress. “Many national security experts and officials have warned that 2016 was likely a testing ground for Russia,” said Root, so states must stay vigilant. Voter registration databases are an obvious target for attack, said Dan Weiske, advisor to the National Cybersecurity Center. “Any of the publicly connected systems, like the registration systems, are going to be the largest areas of attack and the highest risk,” said Weiske. “There’s a lot of data that sits on those, and it’s accessible by the public.”

Full Article: State of Washington has new laws and the Air National Guard to help secure 2018 midterm election - TechRepublic.

Washington: With Russian hacking fresh in mind, Washington state beefs up elections cybersecurity | The Seattle Times

Exercises that simulate a hacking attempt. Assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with higher-level security clearances for top state officials. A Washington National Guard contingent ramping up to go on alert. In years past, you might have mistaken these preparations as defense against a foreign invasion. But in Washington, in 2018, this is what officials are doing to safeguard the state’s elections systems. Roughly a year after Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections, federal officials announced that Russian hackers had targeted the election systems of at least 21 states, including Washington.

Full Article: With Russian hacking fresh in mind, Washington state beefs up elections cybersecurity | The Seattle Times.

Washington: State sues Facebook, Google over political ads | Associated Press

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Monday sued Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG), saying the companies failed to maintain information about political advertising as required by state law. Washington law requires the companies to maintain information about buyers of political ads, the cost, how they pay for it and the candidate or ballot measure at issue, according to the lawsuits, filed in King County Superior Court on Monday. The companies also must make that information available to the public upon request. Ferguson said neither Facebook nor Google did so, even though Washington candidates and political committees have spent nearly $5 million to advertise on those platforms in the past decade.

Full Article: Washington state sues Facebook, Google over political ads - CBS News.

Washington: State to pay for ballot postage to boost turnout | Associated Press

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Tuesday that Washington state will pay for prepaid postage on mail-in ballots in this year’s primary and general elections in an attempt to boost turnout – but not for voters in King County, where local officials approved their own measure last week. The decision Tuesday came at Wyman’s request and was prompted by King County’s plans. Wyman said it would be unfair if voters in the most populous county could mail their ballots for free while those elsewhere had to pay for stamps, and she asked Inslee to let her spend nearly $2 million to reimburse all 39 counties on prepaid postage this year.

Full Article: State to pay for ballot postage to boost turnout | The Spokesman-Review.

Washington: King County senators say state should pay for mailed ballots | Snoqualmie Valley Record

With Washington voters having cast their ballots through the mail since 2011, Sens. Joe Fain and Mark Mullet said today that the state should pay for postage to increase voter participation and reduce any confusion or barriers to participating in elections. The two lawmakers from King County drafted legislation this month that they intend to file ahead of the 2019 legislative session. “Voting is a critically important right and our state has an interest in removing barriers that keep people from exercising that right,” said Fain, R-Auburn, who has worked on election reform and proposals to expand voter access while a member of the state Senate in a press release. “Whether it is the cost or fact that many don’t keep stamps at home in an increasingly paperless society, this is one way to simplify the process and encourage people to participate in our self-government.”

Full Article: King County senators say state should pay for mailed ballots | Snoqualmie Valley Record.

Washington: Secretary of State Kim Wyman asks Gov. Inslee for $2 million to fund prepaid postage for mail-in ballots | The Seattle Times

Gov. Jay Inslee is considering a request from the state’s top election official to spend $2 million to cover prepaid postage on mail-in ballots for this year’s elections. Secretary of State Kim Wyman made the emergency request in response to a similar measure before the Metropolitan King County Council. On Monday the county council decided to delay a vote by a week on a request sponsored by Councilmember Dave Upthegrove to spend $381,000 for prepaid postage for the Aug. 7 primary and the November general election. The request originated with King County Elections Director Julie Wise.

Full Article: Secretary of State Kim Wyman asks Gov. Inslee for $2 million to fund prepaid postage for mail-in ballots | The Seattle Times.

Washington: Secretary of state urges King County to postpone prepaid-postage plan for mail-in ballots | The Seattle Times

Secretary of State Kim Wyman said she will ask Gov. Jay Inslee for emergency funding to help the state’s counties pay for postage for voters in this year’s primary and general election if King County moves forward with a similar plan. However, Wyman urged the King County Metropolitan Council on Monday not to fund prepaid postage for mail-in ballots this election cycle, becoming the first of the state’s 39 counties to do so. She told the council she supports the idea but believes for reasons of equity it should happen statewide, all at the same time.

Full Article: Secretary of state urges King County to postpone prepaid-postage plan for mail-in ballots | The Seattle Times.

Washington: National Guard to tighten election security in Washington | KING5

Cybersecurity experts with the Washington National Guard are teaming up with state election officials to tighten election security in Washington for the 2018 midterms. Other states across the country are forming similar partnerships with National Guard units. However, Washington’s National Guard has long been recognized as a leader in cybersecurity. “You have a number of guard members who are Microsoft employees and Google employees, so they have been on the forefront of cybersecurity planning,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Wyman says she will meet with Washington National Guard leaders in coming weeks to discuss their exact role in the state’s larger effort to secure elections systems. The nation’s Intelligence Chiefs warned earlier this year that Russia is expected to try and meddle in the 2018 midterms after vulnerabilities were exposed in 2016.

Full Article: king5.com | National Guard to tighten election security in Washington.

Washington: State’s sweeping voting rights reforms should be a model for the entire country. | Slate

The last two decades have been pretty bleak for voting rights advocates. President George W. Bush revived the myth of voter fraud to give cover to Republican lawmakers’ efforts to restrict the franchise. The Supreme Court upheld voter ID laws and disemboweled the Voting Rights Act. Democrats’ down-ballot collapse in 2010 paved the way for state-level suppression across the country. The results have been entirely predictable: voter roll purges. Cuts to early voting in minority communities. Ever-more draconian ID and registration requirements. Insidious racial gerrymandering. Voting rights supporters have been on the defensive for most of this battle, and Democrats have not always spent their political capital championing suffrage for all. That’s changing. This year, Democrats in four states have passed landmark legislation to make voting easier and fairer for everyone, and they’ve pursued an ambitious platform designed to restore and expand the franchise in the face of GOP attacks.

Full Article: Washington state’s sweeping voting rights reforms should be a model for the entire country..

Washington: Governor Signs Package of Voter Access Bills | Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday signed a package of bills aimed at increasing voter access in Washington state, including a measure to preregister 16- and 17-year-olds and another that allows in-person voter registration to occur the same day of an election. “I’m proud of our state for making it easier to vote, not harder,” Inslee told the crowd of students and other supporters at Foster High School in Tukwila, Washington, where the bill signing ceremony was held. Under one of the measures , starting on July 1, 2019, people can preregister to vote starting at age 16, though they won’t be added to the list of registered voters until the next election at which they’ll be 18.

Full Article: Washington Governor Signs Package of Voter Access Bills | Washington News | US News.

Washington: Legislation could lead to more district-based voting in Washington | KUOW

State lawmakers passed the Washington Voting Rights Act the week, meant to give underrepresented minority groups a larger voice in elections. And that could mean more district-based voting in the future. The act encourages local governments to use district-based elections, like city councils in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane do already. The state senate gave final approval of the act Monday, sending it to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature.  Democratic state Representative Zack Hudgins was among the bill’s supporters. “The bill before us addresses the problems that we saw in Yakima, and that we’ve heard about in Pasco,” he said.

Full Article: Legislation could lead to more district-based voting in Washington | KUOW News and Information.

Washington: State House Passes Washington State Voting Rights Act | The Seattle Medium | The Seattle Medium

The Washington State House of Representatives recently passed the Washington Voting Rights Act by a 52-46 vote. This is the sixth time that the House has passed the Voting Rights Act, but the first time that the House is taking action on a bill that has already passed the Senate. According to supporters, The Washington Voting Rights Act would allow communities that are systemically disenfranchised in local government elections to work collaboratively with their local governing bodies to adjust their elections through local remedies such as districted systems. This act focuses on a collaborative process rather than litigation, which currently is the only path to relief under the Federal Voting Rights Act. If this collaborative process fails, communities can then seek relief in state court.

Full Article: State House Passes Washington State Voting Rights Act - The Seattle Medium | The Seattle Medium.

Washington: Automatic Voter Registration Passed Out of Senate | The Chronicle

Depending on how things shape up in the state House of Representatives, Washington could soon allow automatic voter registration. Senate BIll 6353, introduced by Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, passed out of the Senate earlier this month on a 34-13 vote and is now awaiting review and action in the House. “Voting is a right, not a privilege,” Hunt said in a press release. “We need to make voting as easy as possible for every citizen in Washington and that starts with registration. We now have the technology to make it seamless, so why wouldn’t we? Automatic voter registration will increase the opportunity to register and vote without endangering the security of the election process.”

Full Article: Automatic Voter Registration Passed Out of Senate | News | chronline.com.

Washington: House Committee Considers Same-Day Voter Registration | Spokane Public Radio

A Washington House committee is considering a bill that would allow people to register to vote and then cast ballots on the same day. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue). “If you look at the five other states that have same-day voter registration, you’ll see that they have increased their voter participation, in some cases, as much as 10%, which is significant by any measure.”

Full Article: WA House Committee Considers Same-Day Voter Registration | Spokane Public Radio.

Washington: Nearly 7,000 Washington Voters Will Get Last Minute Ballots Due To Motor Voter Error | NW News Network

A batch of late-arriving ballots is going out to nearly 7,000 Washington voters in advance of next Tuesday’s special election. That’s because of an error in the state’s Motor Voter system that allows people to register to vote when they get a drivers license. Washington’s Department of Licensing said a software error prevented Motor Voter information from being transmitted to the Secretary of State’s office. The error affects people who changed their names on their driver’s license and in the process were assigned a new license number. The Department of Licensing said it identified and fixed the error in late January, but it’s just now being made public.

Full Article: Nearly 7,000 Washington Voters Will Get Last Minute Ballots Due To Motor Voter Error | NW News Network.