A Monroe lawmaker’s bill that could more than double the number of ballot drop boxes in Washington is on its way to the state House after sailing through the Senate. On Monday, senators approved the legislation 49-0 with Republicans and Democrats predicting it will boost participation of voters by making it easier for them to return their ballots. “This is really important for people in the rural areas,” said Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, the bill’s sponsor. Many constituents in his 39th Legislative District must travel a long distance to find a box to return ballots postage-free, he said. Otherwise they need to use a stamp to mail in their ballots and that is like a poll tax, Pearson contended.
Articles about voting issues in Washington State.
The city of Seattle is trying out a campaign finance experiment in city elections using a voucher system to give money to candidates. In January, residents received four $25 vouchers, paid for with taxpayer funds, that they can give to their candidates of choice for offices such as city council. “It was like getting a little check from your grandma,” Seattle resident Dakota Solberg said of the dark blue slips of paper that arrived in his mailbox recently. Unlike a check from Grandma, the vouchers, totaling $100, can only be spent on candidates for Seattle offices. Solberg said he has never contributed to local races before. “This feels like just extra money that I can use to start participating more,” he said.
Washington state voters overseas can email their ballots to a county auditor. A bill in the legislature would expand that privilege to the rest of the state. But at a hearing Friday, lawmakers heard strong opposition to the proposed legislation. Josh Benaloh, a cryptology expert, believes there is a future for voting online. But he called this bill dangerous. “Things do go bad on the internet. And the real issue is about the ability to review and correct problems,” Benaloh said. “If my vote is altered on the way to an election office, I will likely never know about it.”
Washington: Republicans and Democrats offer competing voting-rights bills in Legislature | The Seattle Times
Republicans and Democrats have introduced competing voting-rights bills that have rekindled debate over efforts aimed at making local elections more hospitable to minority candidates. The four bills would remove a 1994 state restriction that prevents most Washington cities from replacing an at-large voting system with district elections. At-large voting means candidates run citywide for the office. In districted voting, candidates are picked by voters within a smaller geographic area. In Seattle, seven of the nine City Council members are elected by districts while the other two are picked by voters citywide. The current proposals come in the wake of a 2012 federal lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the city of Yakima. In that case, a judge found that Yakima’s at-large system violated the federal Voting Rights Act and ordered the city to elect its council members by district, giving the city’s large Latino population a better chance of being represented.
Washington: Four ‘faithless electors’ to be fined $1,000 each for not casting Clinton votes | The Seattle Times
Fines of $1,000 each are headed for the mailboxes of four Democratic electors who refused to honor Washington state’s popular vote for president. Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office said the citations were mailed to the so-called “faithless electors” on Thursday. The penalties stem from the Electoral College vote on Dec. 19, when Washington’s 12 electors met to officially cast the state’s vote for president and vice president of the U.S. In acts of protest, four of them refused to cast their ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won the state with 54 percent of the vote — breaking state law and their own written pledges.
Washington voters have rejected a measure that creates a publicly funded voucher system for political contributions. Initiative 1464’s voucher system would have given voters three $50 “democracy credits” that they could use in state races every two years. To pay for the statewide system, the measure would have repealed the non-resident sales tax exemption for residents of sales-tax-free states like Oregon and Montana who shop in Washington. To be eligible to redeem the vouchers, participating political candidates would have to have pledged to limit self-financing, as well as the size of donations they accept. About 53 percent of voters rejected the measure. Seattle voters passed a similar citywide measure last year. Voters there agreed to raise taxes by $3 million a year in order to get four $25 vouchers they can sign over to candidates, starting with the 2017 council and city attorney elections.
The Secretary of State reports that 2.1 million ballots turned in among the state’s more than four million registered voters. But mailing or dropping off your ballot isn’t the only way to get your vote counted. Accessible voting centers are available for voters who need assistance completing their ballot. Trained staff and specialized equipment are available to help voters with disabilities cast a private, independent ballot. “We have ‘sip and puff’ adaptive equipment, we also have earphones so people can hear the ballot, instead of visually seeing the ballot, we can make the font larger,” said Julie Wise, the King County director of elections. The machines are equipped for anyone who has a vision, hearing, or dexterity impairment. But also, if you never got your ballot or lost it, you’ll be able to go to one of the polling places.
Washington: ‘New reality’ of vote-by-mail includes delays and problems with postmarks | The News Tribune
The U.S. Postal Service isn’t delivering mail as quickly as it used to, and elections officials say that has the potential to disrupt voting-by-mail in the first presidential election since the service changes took effect last year. First-class mail, which includes ballots, no longer arrives at its destination within one to three days, but instead takes two to five days — a reality that led the Postal Service this year to advise elections officials that voters should mail their ballots back a week before Election Day. Theoretically, the longer delivery timeline shouldn’t matter in a state like Washington, where ballots are deemed valid based on the date they are postmarked, as opposed to the day they arrive at election offices. But documents show that Postal Service officials also have noted issues with postmarking of ballots — and that’s what has elections officials in Washington and across the country especially worried. “Elections officials have indicated illegible or missing postmarks are an issue,” according to a presentation the Postal Service prepared for election officials in August. At that time, the agency said it was “working with elections officials to identify (the) scope of (the) problem.”
It’s finally come to this: Ballots for the general election are in the mail, and within days, Washington state voters can register their choice for president. But how do you know the vote won’t be rigged, or ruined by Russian hackers? It’s prudent to be concerned, but the state official in charge of the election process says it’s “irresponsible” to make baseless accusations about the integrity of the voting process. “I have full and complete confidence in our system,” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican who’s up for re-election this year, said in a blog posting this week. “Every eligible ballot will be handled securely and will be tabulated carefully and accurately.”
Washington: Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman calls Trump rigged-election claim ‘irresponsible’ | The Seattle Times
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is rejecting Donald Trump’s insistence the U.S. election has been “rigged,” calling the GOP nominee’s claims ludicrous and distressing. Wyman — the lone statewide elected Republican on the West Coast — said in an interview Monday “it’s irresponsible for a candidate to be casting doubt on the election process and just making these sweeping statements that the election is rigged already and that the outcome is predetermined.” Wyman said one of the strengths of the American elections system is its decentralization, with votes counted by some 9,000 county auditors and other elections administrators. “You would have to have a conspiracy of such grand scale that I think we would have much bigger problems than whether this election is rigged,” she said.