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

We had a major success in campaign finance transparency this week with the passage of HB 1379, regarding disclosure of contribution from political committees to other political committees. Because it was amended in the Senate it will now need to return to the House for concurrence with the amended version.

Most of the bills that we work on regarding elections are supported by a number of allies. This bill regarding campaign finance is one that LWVWA has been supporting for years, and until recently we were the only major advocacy group working on campaign-finance reform. For the last two sessions we have been working closely with Fix Democracy First on these issues, and our groups have now formed a Campaign Finance Coalition. If you would like to get involved in the work of this coalition please reach out to Kathy Sakahara, contact info above.

    Bills the League Supports
    • HB 1379 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. This bill would close that loophole by requiring that the top donors listed be the individuals, corporations or nonprofits that actually contributed. Passed the House 91-5. Passed the Senate 27-21. Awaiting concurrence in the House before it is sent to the Governor.  
    Bills the League Supported That Passed
    • 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. Passed the Senate, 47-0. Scheduled to be signed by the Governor on April 23. 
    • 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. Passed the House 83-10.
    • 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
    • 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. Passed the House, 76-21, 1 excused. Passed both the Senate and House on a strong bi-partisan vote and has been signed by the Governor. 
    Bills the League Supported That 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. 
    • 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. 
    • 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. 
    Bills the League Opposed That 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 That 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. 

    HB 1545, regarding ballot processing daily records of when and how voters are contacted to cure a mismatched or missing signature on their ballot, has passed out of the House and Senate and is awaiting signature from Governor Inslee. Thank you for your support of this bill!

      Bills the League Supports
      • 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. Passed the Senate 41-7.
        Bills the League Supported That Did Not Pass
        • HB 1251 Requiring the secretary of state to submit an annual report of any security breaches of the state’s electoral systems.
        • 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.

        Census Action — Less than one year before the 2020 Census

        Take action for the Census! Here are some possible actions you can take:

        • Tell one person about the importance of the Census.
        • Organize with a friend to participate in census outreach in your area.
        • Encourage one person of color to become a census employee: Census Jobs
        • Post on social media using the hashtags #CountMeIn and #2020Census and share content from experts and advocates.
        • Click here to tell your legislator about the importance census outreach funding.

        2SSB 5287 passed the Senate, and the House. It now goes back to the Senate to concur with changes in the House version. We anticipate that the Senate will concur and the bill will be sent to the Governor. Please encourage Governor Inslee to sign the bill.

        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. Passed the Senate 57-39, 2 excused. 
        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 That 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 an 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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