With the Washington State Legislature convening this coming Monday, January 8 we wanted to share our 2018 legislative priorities. As always, our goal is to make voting as accessible and barrier-free as possible. Here’s a look at what Director Wise will be supporting in Olympia over the next two months:
Make it easier to register.
- Move to Same Day Registration. Washington’s deadlines make no sense compared to the rest of the country. In 2016 we saw the highest turnout in states with Same Day registration. It will take money and work, but there’s no reason we can’t give Washington voters that same opportunity.
- Get 16 and 17 year-olds signed up. So many people first encounter voter registration in their high school social studies class or when they get their first driver’s license. It’s an enormous missed opportunity not to sign them up right then and there.
Make it representative for everyone.
It’s past time for all of our communities to have a fair chance to elect candidates of their choice. The Washington Voting Rights Act allows local jurisdictions to pick whether they want to hold at-large or by-district elections while also protecting minority groups from discrimination in the election system.
Make it simple to return your ballot.
- Allow jurisdictions to implement prepaid postage if that will serve their voters more effectively than additional ballot drop boxes.
- Let jurisdictions accept electronically returned ballots without requiring voters to submit their hard-copy materials. These voters have made their choices; we should count them without extra steps.
- Permit voters with disabilities and overseas/services voters to use a stamp or electronic signature to sign their ballot.
Make it fair for all jurisdictions.
Currently the state only pays their share of election costs in odd numbered years, the opposite of when there are state races on the ballot. For King County alone, the average unfunded state election cost in these years is about $4 million.
Make it convenient for voters to participate in the primary.
An August Primary is a challenge for many voters who are on vacation or tied up with summer activities. It is also inconsistent with the rest of the states in our region. Legislators and election administrators should work together to find a May or June Primary date that makes more sense.