Articles about voting issues in Washington State.

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. Read More

Washington: Ballot box bill could raise cost of local elections, officials say | Kitsap Sun

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. Read More

Washington: Ballot Box Bill Near Becoming Law, But Not Popular with Elections Officials | Spokane Public Radio

Every piece of legislation considered by a body of elected officials has some kind of back story. Sometimes a bill is sparked by an idea from a constituent. That was the case with one bill (Senate Bill 5472) now waiting for Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s signature. It started with an innocuous question about election drop boxes. “A high school teacher in the town of Granite Falls asked me, ‘Why doesn’t my community have a drop box?’ His community, Granite Falls, has about 35-hundred people,” said Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe). The drop box to which he’s referring is a place where voters can take their completed ballots. The other option in Washington is to mail ballots. But Pearson doesn’t like that option, as he told his colleagues on the Senate floor in February. Read More

Washington: Voting Rights bill moves forward on narrow vote in Washington Senate | The Spokesman-Review

Many Washington cities and counties could elect their council and commission members by district under a bill some senators described Thursday as a voting rights act and others denounced as a Band-Aid. The proposal, one of five “Voting Rights” bills introduced in the Legislature, passed on a 25-24 party-line vote. It would allow smaller cities and counties the ability to drop at-large elections in favor of districts with equal population. Many of Washington’s largest cities and home-rule counties already can do that, and Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said it was only fair to let small cities do what Spokane and Seattle have already done. But critics of the bill said it doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t ensure that minority groups will get an equal shot at fair representation when districts are drawn. They said a more comprehensive Democratic bill had more protections, but it didn’t get out of committee. Read More

Washington: Senate OKs bill to add hundreds of ballot drop boxes in state | Everett Herald

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. Read More

Washington: Seattle tries voucher system to reform campaign finance | Marketplace

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. Read More

Washington: Opponents Of E-Voting In Washington State Call Proposed Bill ‘Dangerous’ | KUOW

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.” Read More

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. Read More

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.  Read More

Washington: Voters reject voucher system for political contributions | Associated Press

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. Read More