2019 Legislative Priorities

The 2019 Washington State legislative session opened this week, and we wanted to share our priorities for this session. As always, our goal is to make voting as accessible and barrier-free as possible. Here’s a look at what Director Julie Wise will be supporting in Olympia over the next three months:

State pays its fair share.

Every other jurisdiction pays their share of election costs. Currently the state only pays for 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. New mandates, like additional drop boxes and same day registration have only exacerbated this issue. It’s past time for the state to pay its fair share.

Signature alternatives.

With more and more digital transactions, we are seeing society shift away from the signature as a primary tool for authentication. We need new options for verifying an individual voted their correct ballot. Washington State should get ahead of this issue and be a leader in exploring signature alternatives. This could include piloting options for voters with disabilities and overseas/service voters, both communities significantly impacted by the current signature requirement.

Washington State Legislature
(Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP)

A more convenient 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.

Simple ballot language.

In each election, we ask voters to make hard choices about their leaders, their taxes and their community. We shouldn’t make those choices more difficult by explaining them with convoluted and legalistic ballot language. Washington should explore options for simple ballot wording.

Clarify same day registration (SB 5227).

The legislature did great work last year when it passed same day voter registration. However, for the new law to be successfully implemented, some minor clean-up is needed. Most important, the law needs to clarify that registrations and transfers must be received, not post-marked, by the deadline. Otherwise, the voter may not receive their mail ballot in time.