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Tag: Sam Reed


Hearing pits cultural programs against each other

At a hearing today on a plan that aims to save the history museums in Tacoma, Spokane and Olympia by merging them with other cultural and arts programs, critics focused on the plan’s potential effect on the State Library.

The library would be consolidated into the new Department of Heritage, Arts and Culture under Rep. Jeannie Darneille’s bill. It would be funded in part by money that otherwise would be set aside for future construction of a new building to house the library and history-related programs.

Library supporters said it’s working well in its current home, Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office, and shouldn’t move to a new agency. Some also worried about snatching money from the planned building on the Capitol Campus, the Heritage Center.

The audience at the hearing was full of patrons of the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, a part of the State Library that serves the blind.

Among the users of the downtown Seattle braille library’s 459,000-item collection is Greg Jack of Olympia, who has used it since he was a boy growing up in Spokane. Jack checks out several books a month, both audiobooks that he downloads and braille books that come by mail. Just now he’s reading Typee by Herman Melville. Read more »


Lawmakers poised to allow vote by e-mail

It looks likely that voters overseas will be able to vote by e-mail in 2012.

Both the state Senate and House have now approved e-mail voting, albeit in bills that are quite different. Neither bill has yet passed in the opposite chamber, but the deal looks all but sealed.

A hurdle to supporters of e-mail voting disappeared with the unseating of a key senator, Eric Oemig. He blocked a bill from coming to a Senate floor vote last year over worries about the security of ballots.

But today the Senate approved SB 5171, allowing for e-mail

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Better chance this time for vote-by-mail, supporters say

Olympia Rep. Sam Hunt says he thinks the odds are better this year for his renewed attempt to make the whole state vote by mail. Elections officials in Secretary of State Sam Reed‘s office, too, are optimistic the effort will succeed.

The practical effects of an all-mail switch would be felt only in Pierce County. The other 38 counties in the state already vote entirely by mail, while Pierce County hangs on to polling places for the minority of voters who don’t want to mail their ballots.

In November, roughly 29,000 votes came from poll sites, nearly 11 percent of those cast in the county.

Tacoma freshman Reps. Connie Ladenburg and Laurie Jinkins have signed on to Hunt’s bill, and several other House Democrats support the idea. Past all-mail bills have cruised through the House but gotten bottled up in the Senate.

Last year, a bill by Hunt made it out of a key Senate committee but was blocked after objections from Pierce County senators including Democratic Sen. Rosa Franklin.

Sen. Steve Conway, a Tacoma Democrat who replaced the retiring Franklin, said he would oppose it, but said it’s too soon to say if he would try to keep it from coming to a vote.

“To me, our county will come to this decision on their own like all the other counties have,” Conway said. “When we’re the only county that hasn’t chosen this, I don’t really appreciate a bill trying to mandate it.”

Pierce County’s top elections official wants her county to join the rest. County Auditor Julie Anderson testified today in support of Hunt’s bill.

Anderson mainly points to the low turnout. But she reminded lawmakers poll sites also cost money. Eliminating them for the 2012 elections would save at least $80,000, she said, and that doesn’t count upcoming costs of hiring translators at polling places.

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E-mail voting clears committee, has easier path through Legislature

Elections officials and advocates for the military who want overseas Washingtonians to be able to vote by e-mail were thwarted last year, but now see an easier path to their goal.

Their proposal became the first bill filed this year, HB 1000, and today became one of the first to pass a committee vote when the House State Government Committee approved it unanimously.

But the problem was never the House, which passed it 96-0 last year. It was the Senate, where Sen. Eric Oemig blocked the bill, heeding the complaints of election-security advocates worried e-mail voting would lead to fraud.

Oemig lost on Nov. 2, and the opponents haven’t found a champion to pick up where he left off. Potentially unable to block the bill, they want a compromise that would allow an e-mailed ballot to be used only as a placeholder until a paper ballot is received.

That’s similar to what election officials allow now, but they don’t promote the method because it confuses voters to have to send a ballot twice, according to state elections co-director Katie Blinn, who said it makes the electronic transmission of ballots an “absolutely useless act.”

Whether or not this bill passes, military and other overseas voters can continue to request and obtain ballots via e-mail and then send them back by traditional mail.

Blinn’s boss, Secretary of State Sam Reed, said he knows of no opposition among senators this year, and Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, told the committee he has promises from the Senate that the bill won’t be blocked.

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Tim Eyman’s petitions ready to be made public

State government can now publicly release petitions in support of any initiative and referendum, except Referendum 71 on gay rights.

A Thurston County judge this morning dissolved the restraining order that had prevented release of petitions and their signatures, which Secretary of State Sam Reed says are public records. Initiative promoters like Tim Eyman say the signatures should be withheld to protect signers’ privacy.

With the restraints lifted, Reed’s office says it will provide the petitions from 11 initiatives, mostly Eyman’s, that have been requested by lobbyist and political consultant Bryan Wahl.

Still under court consideration are R-71 petitions

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Pierce County: We’ll meet deadline for military voters

Washington state may have needed an exemption from the federal deadline for mailing ballots overseas, but Pierce County doesn’t.

County Auditor Julie Anderson says her office will meet the Sept. 18 deadline for ballots to go out to its 9,050 military and other overseas voters, even now that the Pentagon has given Washington until Oct. 3.

“I’m not saying that it was easy,” Anderson said. “We’ve had a lot of people working overtime. We’ve had a lot of stressed out managers.”

Pierce County’s announcement is interesting because it has so many of the state’s military voters. Secretary of State

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GOP: Washington jeopardizing votes of troops

The state Republican Party says Washington should have to meet the same deadlines as other states for sending Nov. 2 election ballots to voters living overseas or serving in the military.

Washington obtained an exemption from new federal requirements last week, which Republicans say will “almost certainly result in disenfranchising the votes of our brave men and women serving in the military.”

But Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed‘s office, which applied for the waiver, says Washington’s unusual elections calendar allows nearly all ballots to return from far-flung locations in time to be counted. In the past two elections, 99

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Supreme Court rules signatures can be released

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning that Washington may publicly release the names of voters who sign petitions in support of ballot measures.

The 8-1 decision, with Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting, is a victory for gay rights groups and for Secretary of State Sam Reed, as well as for Attorney General Rob McKenna, who argued the case.

Backers of Referendum 71, which tried unsuccessfully to repeal the law expanding same-sex domestic partnership benefits, argued releasing names of their supporters would subject them to harassment.

But Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion that the state law requiring

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