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Senate votes to end poll voting

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
March 4, 2011 10:11 pm

A vote this evening in the state Legislature is likely to be a death warrant for Pierce County’s remaining polling places.

A mandate for the state to vote entirely by mail eked 26-to-23 through the Senate, where similar proposals have foundered in the past. Republican opponents called it an attack on Pierce County, the state’s last holdout with polling places.

Though it’s supported by GOP Secretary of State Sam Reed, the vote broke largely along the same partisan lines that divide the Pierce County council and county executive on the issue of poll voting, with most Democrats agreeing the state needs a uniform system of elections.

“Elections in our state are a state responsibility. They’re not a county responsibility,” said Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver.

The House, by contrast, has approved those past versions of the all-mail voting bill and is expected to sign off on this one, Senate Bill 5124.

Which means that this could be, as Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver described it, the “final death knell” for the ballot box in Washington. Voters all over the state would still be able to travel to at least one voting center in each county if they need help.

Puyallup Democrat Jim Kastama joined with local Republican Sens. Pam Roach of Auburn, Mike Carrell of Lakewood and Randi Becker of Eatonville to oppose the bill; Pierce County Democrats Steve Conway and Debbie Regala of Tacoma and Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor supported it.

Otherwise, Hoquiam Democrat Jim Hargrove and Rochester Republican Dan Swecker were the only senators to break with their parties.

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