ELECTIONS, CAMPAIGN FINANCE & GOVERNMENT ETHICS

Improve access to the ballot, reduce the influence of special interest money, and increase transparency in government and politics.

Issue Team Chair: Kathy Sakahara – ksakahara [at] lwvwa.org – (206) 261-7797
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 
Right Now In Elections, Campaign Finance & Government Ethics

Thank you! We had a tremendous response to our action alert asking you to let your Senator know that you opposed SJM 8002, calling for a constitutional convention. Despite a very aggressive campaign by well-funded supporters, SJM 8002 was never brought up for a vote. Senate leadership cited messages from League supporters as having a real impact--your action is making a difference.

We are now seeing more of our priority bills in the opposite chamber from where they were introduced and passed being heard by committee--bills that have passed the House are now being heard in the Senate and vice versa.

The following bills we support will be heard this week at a meeting of the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee on March 20 at 8:00am: 

  • ESHB 1379 Regarding disclosure of contribution from political committees to other political committees.
  • SHB 1251 Concerning security breaches of election systems or election data including by foreign entities.
  • SHB 1545 Concerning curing ballots to assure that votes are counted. 
ESB 5294, creating leave provisions for legislative service will be heard in the House State Government & Tribal Relations hearing on March 19 at 1:30pm.
    Bills the League Supports

    Elections

    • SB 5063 Providing prepaid postage for ballots. This would continue the practice used in the 2018 election of eliminating the need for a stamp on mailed ballots. Passed the Senate, 42-3. If you did not take action on this previously, please click here to contact your legislators now to let them know you support postage paid ballots.
    • SB 5207 This bill would require that the Department of Corrections provide inmates with a felony conviction with information on how to restore their right to vote along with a voter registration form. Too often someone leaves the prison system believing that their right to vote has been taken away permanently. Passed the Senate 37-12. 
    • SB 5224 Eliminating advisory votes. These are questions that appear on the ballot regarding state expenditures that have already passed. The results do not have any impact. They add significantly to the costs of elections and voters are not informed about them because reliable information is virtually impossible to find. Having votes that do not count for anything is inconsistent with League principles. Passed the Senate 27-20. 
    Campaign Finance & Government Ethics
    • HB 1375 Applying campaign contribution limits to candidates for all port districts. Currently the limits apply only to certain port districts, including those that have over 200,000 registered voters. Passed the House 98-0.
    • HB 1379 / SB 5221 Regarding disclosure of contribution from political committees to other political committees. Currently political advertising is required to show the top five donors that paid for the ad. Based on a loophole in the law, the top donors listed are sometimes other political action committees (PACs) with appealing but unrecognized names. This loophole can be used to hide the true donors behind the campaign ad. These companion bills would close that loophole by requiring that the top donors listed be the individuals, corporations or nonprofits that actually contributed. SB 5221 passed the Senate 33-14, and HB 1379 passed the House 91-5. 
    • ESB 5294 Creating leave provisions for legislative service. This bill would require most employers to provide unpaid leave to workers while they are serving as a legislator. LWV strongly supports the concept of “citizen legislators.” Legislative service is considered part time, but the current system makes it difficult for many individuals who are not wealthy or self-employed to even consider running for office. Passed the Senate 27-19. 
    Bills the League is Watching
    • SB 5078 Requiring disclosure of five years of tax returns before a presidential or vice-presidential candidate can appear on a ballot. Passed the Senate 28-21. The Attorney General has issued a statement that he believes it is likely constitutional, but that the issue is somewhat murky so he expects that the bill would be challenged in court.
    • SB 5273 Regarding the presidential primary. This bill would move up the date of the Washington presidential primary to the second Tuesday in March (with some exceptions). It would also require voters to declare their affiliation with the party and then vote only on that party’s ballot. Passage of this bill may result in the Democratic Party basing its delegate selection on the primary vote rather than a caucus system. LWVWA opposes a requirement that voters publicly express party preference but does believe that a presidential primary is a more accessible and representative way to select candidates than a caucus system. This bill passed both houses and has been signed by the Governor. The Washington State Democratic Party is currently soliciting input on whether it should use the primary or the caucus to select candidates. That decision will be made by the party on April 7, 2019.
    Bills the League Supported Which Passed
    • SB 5079 Native American Voting Rights Act. Will enable mail-in ballots for those living on native lands but without a recognized street address. SB 5079 passed both the Senate and the House on a strong bipartisan vote, and has been signed by the Governor
    Bills the League Supported Which Did Not Pass
    • HB 1067 Establishes a one-year “cooling off” period before high-level government officials, including elected officials can work as a lobbyist influencing state public policy.
    • HB 1291 / SB 5073 Requiring the state to reimburse County auditors for the proportionate cost of elections involving state offices. This reimbursement is critical for stable election funding and will enable counties to expand efforts such as outreach and cybersecurity.  
    • HB 1924 Including the Department of Corrections (DOC) in the restoration of voting rights for people re-entering our communities ensures that these people are equipped with the information they need to vote before they are released from prison. People in prison can be difficult to reach by outside agencies wishing to help with various aspects of re-entry and the DOC is in the best position to educate people under its jurisdiction about this important right.
    • SB 5076 This bill would allow people who are on parole to register to vote as long as they were in compliance with the conditions of their parole. Currently, that right is not restored until they have completed their term of parole. 
    Bills the League Opposed Which Did Not Pass
    • SJM 8002 Joint memorials encouraging Congress to call for a “limited” Constitutional Convention. The League opposes both of these memorials because there is no way to guarantee that the convention would be limited to issues of free and fair elections. Congress has made no rules about constitutional conventions, so none of the criteria that the League of Women Votes of the United States’s position calls for could be guaranteed. Our call for a constitutional convention could be combined with other states' calls on different topics (balanced budget amendment, anti-choice amendment) in order to meet the threshold required. For more information see this excellent analysis of the threat by Common Cause. 
    ELECTION METHODS
    Promote the adoption and implementation of election methods that maximize representation and citizen participation.

    Issue Team Chair:
     Barbra Chevalier
     – barbra.n.chevalier [at] gmail.com – (425) 445-2281
    Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 


    Bills the League Supported Which Did Not Pass 

    HB 1722 / SB 5708 The Local Options Bill will create uniformity in state law by permitting jurisdictions across the state to adopt Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and expand voter choice. SB 5708 was not passed out of the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee. HB 1722 was voted out of the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee, but it failed to leave the House Appropriations Committee. No further legislative action will be taken on the Local Options Bill this year.


    You can read more about the League’s position on this issue by reading our study here.

    ELECTION SECURITY

    Promote security, accuracy, auditability, and transparency in elections.

    Issue Team Chair: Kirstin Mueller – kpmueller [at] gmail.com – (425) 293-5046
    Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 
    Right Now In Election Security

    The League will work with legislators during the 2019 legislative session to improve election security by supporting:

    • Improved cybersecurity measures to ensure our voting system can be defended against attacks.
    • Publicly verifiable post-election audits and easy and timely access to audit results.
    • Improved reconciliation reports including greater detail of ballot rejection rates.
    • Improved tracking and procedures for chain of custody of voted ballots.
    • Public access to election records including ballot images and cast vote records when voter privacy and ballot anonymity can be maintained.
    • Retention of election records for longer periods of time, allowing for greater opportunity to detect and recover should an election be subject to error or interference. 

    The following bills have passed out of the House and will be heard in the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations, & Elections Committee on Wednesday March 20 at 8:00am. If your legislators are members of this committee, please contact them and urge them to vote YES to move these bills out of committee.

    • HB 1251, requiring the secretary of state to submit an annual report of any security breaches of the state’s electoral systems. Passed the House 95-0.
    • HB 1545 Requiring election officials to maintain a daily record during ballot processing of when and how voters are contacted to cure a mismatched or missing signature on their ballot. Passed the House 91-7. 
    Bills the League Supports
    • HB 1251 Requiring the secretary of state to submit an annual report to legislative committees, the governor, and additional governmental entities of any security breaches of the state’s electoral systems. The report must include recommendations to increase the security and integrity of the election system and methods to prevent future intrusions. Passed the House, 95-0, 3 excused.
    • HB 1545 Requiring election officials to maintain a daily record during ballot processing of when and how voters are contacted to cure a mismatched or missing signature on their ballot. Passed the house, 91-7. 
      Bills the League Supported Which Did Not Pass
      • HB 1819 Regarding election reconciliation reporting requirements. County auditors would be required to reconcile ballots issued, received, counted, and rejected by precinct.
      • HB 1820 Extends the retention period for the storage of election material, requiring elections with non-federal contests and federal contests to retain materials for at least 24 months. Electronic records would need to be kept for at least 5 years. Increasing the retention period allows for detection and recovery should an error or interference occur during an election.

      • HB 1821 Requiring standardized postelection audit reports. County auditors would need to include information such as the races audited, any discrepancies found, and the voting systems audited. Uniform reporting of audit results would allow for increased public confidence in election outcomes and election security statewide.

      • HB 1822 Enhancing election data by improving statewide election data collection and reporting standards.

      • HB 1823 Relating to the disclosure of electronic ballot images. Transparent elections are necessary for public trust and confidence in election outcomes. Allowing the public to inspect electronic ballot image files that are created when voted ballots are scanned during tabulation allows for greater public observation and participation in post-election audits.

      • HB 2111 Concerning enhancing cybersecurity by eliminating the return of ballots by fax and email. This act addresses cybersecurity attacks and reduces vulnerability and the risk of election tampering. This is accomplished by eliminating email and fax submission of ballots.

      CENSUS & REDISTRICTING

      Ensure the redistricting process is accessible and transparent with timeframes that enable input and strengthen results and support an accurate and complete 2020 Census.


      Issue Team Chair: Alison McCaffree – alison.mccaffree [at] stanfordalumni.org – (253) 720-6813
      Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 
      Right Now In Census & Redistricting

      The League will be working on the following issues in this session:

      • Allocate additional money from Washington State to support the Census outreach process; augmenting the federal funds from the U.S. Census Bureau.
      • Enhance administrative requirements of the Washington State Redistricting Commission by moving commissioner appointments sooner, requiring more public access and increasing transparency.
      • Change the composition of Washington’s Redistricting Commission to include women and people of color, additional representation from outside the dominate parties and from regions outside of Puget Sound.

      2SSB 5287 passed the Senate and is currently in the House State Government &Tribal Relations Committee. If you have a Representative on this committee, please contact them and ask that they vote to pass this bill out of committee. 

      Bills the League Supports
      • 2SSB 5287 Known as the "prison gerrymandering" bill, this bill seeks to amend the Census data with information from Washington's corrections department and adjust the numbers for more accurate representation in creating congressional, legislative and local districts. If prisoners in Washington State where formerly from outside the state or have an unknown prior address, they will be removed from the data for the purposes of redistricting within Washington. This will not affect Washington's apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives. Passed the House, 27-21.
      Bills the League is Watching 
      • SB 5502 Relating to alignment of statutory deadlines to the Constitution as amended by the voters to November 15 of the year ending in 1.
      • SB 5496 Regarding district boundaries and precincts within them. This bill lays out a deadline for auditors filing changes to precincts and requires that precincts to be wholly outside of or wholly within any city or town; adjusting contiguity requirements as necessary.
      Bills the League Supported Which Did Not Pass
      • HB 1396 Regarding changes to the requirements of redistricting maps and adds restrictions on redistricting commissioners in participating in or donating to campaigns. This bill adds a efficiency gap measurement requirement as a way to ensure there is no extreme partisan gerrymandering. The sponsor of this bill has asked that it not have a hearing. The conversation on improvements to redistricting has begun and will continue into the interim.

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