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Voter pamphlet for primaries, handful of other elections bills are ready to move

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on Feb. 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm | 2 Comments »
February 1, 2013 5:17 pm

Democratic Rep. Sam Hunt says he is prepared to hold votes on a handful of elections bills in his Government Operations and Elections Committee starting next week. Among them is a Republican-sponsored bill from Rep. Gary Alexander <a href=”http://dlr.leg.wa.gov/billsummary/default.aspx?Bill=1211&year=2013” target=”_blank”><b> to pay for a state voter pamphlet for primary elections </b></a> in even-numbered years.

The lack of a printed state voter pamphlet in primaries was an issue in last year’s race for secretary of state, and both Republican victor Kim Wyman and her challenger Kathleen Drew came out in favor of the guide. The elections agency already produces an online pamphlet and several central Puget Sound counties produced guides at their own expense.

But House Bill 1211 would have the state print and send one to registered voters in even-numbered years at a cost of about $1 million per biennium. The voter pamphlets would carry statements from candidates for Congress, state lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges. The last state-paid primary pamphlet was published in 2008.

Other bills in the pipeline, according to Hunt, the committee chairman:

- The Voting Rights Act, also known as <a href=”http://dlr.leg.wa.gov/billsummary/default.aspx?Bill=1413&year=2013” target=”_blank”><b>HB 1413, </b></a> from Democratic Rep. Luis Moscoso of Mountlake Terrace. It authorizes local governments such as cities and school boards to create smaller electoral districts that can help minority candidates get elected.

Some local government officials testified against, saying it <a href=”http://www.theolympian.com/2013/01/30/2404229/legal-fee-concerns-raised-for.html ” target=”_blank”><b> could open them up to legal costs. </b></a> But Hunt said he doesn’t think that is a problem if jurisdictions are responsive in creating districts.

- A ballot drop-box bill, <a href=”http://dlr.leg.wa.gov/billsummary/default.aspx?Bill=1290&year=2013” target=”_blank”><b>House Bill 1290, </b></a> that requires county auditors to put ballot drop boxes at universities and schools, which in Thurston County does not happen at The Evergreen State College. The sponsor is Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines.

Thurston County elections manager Steve Homan told the committee the boxes are expensive. But Hunt says students at Central WashingtonUniversity raised money and worked with the Kittitas County auditor to buy a box and mark it in according with county guidelines, and he’d like to see more of that.

A bill letting 16 and 17-year-olds preregister to vote when they go for their driver licenses. <a href=”http://dlr.leg.wa.gov/billsummary/default.aspx?Bill=1279&year=2013” target=”_blank”><b>HB 1279</b></a> builds on the state’s motor-voter law that links driver licensing with voter registration.

A voter-registration proposal, <a href=”http://dlr.leg.wa.gov/billsummary/default.aspx?Bill=1267&year=2013” target=”_blank”><b> House Bill 1267, </b></a>that allows voters to register on Election Day.

A final  measure sought by the secretary of state, <a href=”http://dlr.leg.wa.gov/billsummary/default.aspx?Bill=1157&year=2013” target=”_blank”><b> House Bill 1157, </b></a> makes minor or technical changes in election-law.

A slew of election bills also await action in a Senate committee chaired by Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn.  The deadline for moving policy bills out of committee is Feb. 22.

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