In an effort to save money and make the elections process more efficient during these tight budget times, Secretary of State Sam Reed is asking the Legislature to lower the cost of producing the statewide Voters’ Pamphlet, eliminate the primary for judicial races with fewer than three candidates, and implement other ideas to reduce elections costs for the state and counties. A second bill in Reed’s modest legislative package aims to reduce the backlog of out-of-state research requests for the State Library’s small research staff. The State Library is a division of the Office of Secretary of State. The third measure in the package would allow participants in the Address Confidentiality Program, which is also run by the agency, to register in a domestic partnership confidentially.
Reed said the centerpiece of his elections cost-savings legislation is allowing the full text of ballot measures to be placed online for free on the Secretary of State’s website instead of the printed Voters’ Pamphlet, which is produced by Reed’s Elections Division. The Secretary of State is required by the Washington Constitution to send the Voters’ Pamphlet to all 3 million Washington households.
“It is very costly to produce and print the Voters’ Pamphlet every year, especially when there are one or more initiatives or referenda on the ballot,” Reed said. “The entire text for Referendum 71 consumed 33 pages in the Voters’ Pamphlet three years ago. That’s a lot of pages devoted to a ballot measure, and we often have three or four measures every year. “When you consider that few people bother to read the entire text of a ballot measure and how costly it is to include in the printed Voters’ Pamphlet, it makes sense to just put the text of a ballot measure online. If people want read the entire text, it will be accessible on their computer or hand-held device,” added Reed, the state’s top elections officer.