Activists in Clark County and across the state are preparing for a new push to enact automatic voter registration in Washington either in the upcoming legislative session or through a ballot initiative next year. If adopted, the state would automatically register voters who prove their eligibility when they interface with government offices, such as getting an enhanced driver’s license. Proponents say it not only increases voter turnout and engagement but also streamlines the process. “The idea, from our perspective, is to make voting as easy as possible,” said Alice Perry Linker, a volunteer with an informal group of that’s supporting the effort. “It’s a right that all citizens have and we want to make it easy for them.”
Articles about voting issues in Washington State.
Washington: State Reveals Upcoming Federal Cybersecurity Pilot, After DHS Confirms Attempted Election Breaches | Gov Tech
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said three months ago that people linked to the Russian government had attempted to hack election-related sites and information in 21 states. But on Sept. 22, DHS made it official, contacting election officials in those states to more formally notify them of having been targeted. Only one, the state of Illinois, was deemed as having been “breached,” according to a Washington Post analysis that pointed to the previously revealed exposure of personal information belonging to “tens of thousands of voters.” With its next election about six weeks away, a top Washington state elections official said the agency will soon embark on a three-month federal pilot aimed at improving cybersecurity, and officials are optimistic the electoral cycle will be uneventful and appear largely unchanged to voters.
This year, Seattle embarked on a bold political experiment in public funding for elections: the Democracy Voucher program. But Hisam Goueli, a candidate for Seattle City Council Position 8, says the new voucher system is broken and lead to “frustration and tears” for his campaign. Although he received nearly $20,000, the money arrived the day before the primary election. Goueli saw the program as a great opportunity for a first-time candidate like himself to run a competitive campaign. In the taxpayer-funder program, each registered voted in Seattle was issued four $25 vouchers, which they can “donate” to the candidate of their choice. But Goueli says that dream turned into a total nightmare, when he and his campaign manager ended up spending “four or five hours each day trying to get the democracy voucher program working.”
It’s a fact few people, even politicians know: Every jurisdiction, whether it be a city, town, fire district, school district or water district, must pay its county’s election department to get their races and measures on a ballot. There’s one exception- the State of Washington. State laws says the state is exempt from reimbursing counties the costs of putting state and federal races on ballots during years ending in an even number. State auditors and election officials say those costs are being place on the backs of counties and jurisdictions — some that can barely afford to put on an election. “The state is getting a free ride in even years when it’s the most expensive,” says Julie Anderson, Pierce County Auditor who is heading up a legislative effort of state auditors to change the law.
Washington state’s voter rolls are “accurate,” and the state follows federal election laws. That’s the message Washington Director of Elections, Lori Augino, is sending to the U.S. Department of Justice. President Donald Trump has alleged widespread voter fraud in last year’s election. He’s formed a Commission on Election Integrity to investigate. Trump’s Department of Justice has also sent letters to secretaries of state asking for information on how they purge their voter rolls of “ineligible voters.” Augino has now sent a four-page response to DOJ. It says the state routinely compares its voter registration database to lists of deaths and felony convictions. And the state looks for duplicates every night.
Washington: In Seattle, vouchers let voters steer city money to political campaigns. But some aren’t buying it | Los Angeles Times
The nation’s first “political voucher” system — a coupon of sorts that lets voters direct public money into the campaigns of candidates — is a rousing success in Jon Grant’s view. Vying for a seat on the Seattle City Council, Grant has raised $186,000 through the vouchers, which are funded by a city property tax and intended to offset the financial advantage of big-money candidates. “The last time I ran,” says Grant, a community activist who unsuccessfully sought a council seat in 2015, “our campaign was outspent 8 to 1.” This time he’s the one outspending his opponents.
Seattle’s first-in-the-nation voucher system for publicly financing political campaigns is facing a new legal challenge by two local property owners who say it forces them to support candidates they don’t like. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian-leaning law firm, sued the city Wednesday in King County Superior Court over the “democracy voucher” program, which was passed by voters in 2015 and is being used for the first time in this year’s City Council and city attorney races. Under the program, Seattle’s voters decided to tax themselves $3 million a year in exchange for four $25 vouchers that they can sign over to candidates. According to the city, it costs the average homeowner $11.50 per year.
As many as 100 election departments from cities and counties across the United States may have been penetrated by Russian hackers. That’s the revelation from a report allegedly from the National Security Agency, according to an online media outlet The Intercept, which published what it claims to be a classified report that said Russian agents at the direction of the government attacked a voting machine company and then tried to infiltrate local election boards. The FBI on Tuesday arrested a federal contractor for allegedly having leaked the NSA report to The Intercept.
Washington: How Many Voters Could Automatic Voter Registration Add to the Voter Rolls in Washington State? | Sightline Institute
Oregon’s New Motor Voter law empowered more than a quarter-million voters in its first nine months. Six states plus Washington, DC, are now implementing automatic voter registration, including Alaska, which approved it by a landslide in November. Evergreen State readers may be wondering: What about Washington? Can’t we do that, too? Yes. But it’s complicated. The number of voting-age Washingtonians who are not registered to vote has grown steadily in the past few decades. Although more voters registered in 2016, nearly 1.3 million voting-age adults in Washington remain unregistered. Adding them to voter rolls once they prove their citizenship would ensure they receive mail-in ballots and can vote in future elections. Most registered voters cast ballots only some of the time, which is their choice. When Oregon introduced its automatic registration system this year, about a quarter of the automatically registered newcomers to the rolls cast ballots in November’s US election.
A state Senate bill that would require counties to increase the number of ballot drop boxes could bump the cost of elections in Kitsap County by more than $50,000, election officials say. The bill, which is awaiting the governor’s signature, would force counties to add one drop box for every 15,000 voters, one in every city and in each census-designated place with a post office. Sen. Kirk Pearson, R- Monroe, the bill’s lone sponsor, argued in testimony that adding more ballot boxes would increase access to voting in smaller, less-populated areas. The cost of postage should be considered a barrier that discourages people from voting, he said. But county election officials say the parameters of the measure are too restrictive and would force taxpayers to bear the brunt of the cost.