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
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Right Now In Elections, Campaign Finance & Government Ethics

    Democracy Lobby Day This Thursday, February 21!

    Join us in Person or Online

    Democracy Lobby Day, which the League is co-sponsoring with Fix Democracy First, is this Thursday, February 21. If you can join us please register here to learn about critical democracy issues in Washington and how to effectively advocate with your legislator. We will set up meetings with your legislators as well as to help those who would like to testify in committee. 

    If you cannot join us in person, please consider being part of our Virtual Democracy Lobby Day. You can be part of this day by scheduling to send an email and/or call all three of your legislators on Thursday, February 21. We have drafted an email for you here, but we encourage you to customize the email as much as possible. You could discuss whichever of the below bills you feel most strongly about, or share a personal story describing why you care about this issue. 

    The biggest news this week is progress on two joint memorials encouraging Congress to call for a “limited” Constitutional Convention. We oppose both of these memorials because there is no way to guarantee that the convention would be limited to issues of free and fair elections. The League of Women Voters of the United States studied this issue very carefully and has adopted a position that a constitutional Convention should only be considered under very specific conditions. Because Congress has never adopted any rules about a constitutional convention, we believe that the risk of a “runaway convention” which would change other parts of our Constitution is simply too great.

    HJM 4004 was heard this week and will be voted on by the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee on February 19 at 1:30p.m. If one of your representatives is a member of the committee, please email or call them on February 18 and encourage them to vote "No" on moving this bill out of committee.

    SJM 8002 is scheduled for a hearing in the State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee on February 22 at 1:30p.m. If your Senator is a member of this committee, please email or call them before this hearing and express your opposition to the bill and encourage them not to vote this bill out of committee.

      Bills the League Supports

      Elections

      • HB 1209 / 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. 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.
      • 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 1339 / 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 the Senate on a bipartisan, 34-13 vote.
      • 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 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.
      • 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.
      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.
      • HB 1067 / SB 5033 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 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 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 Opposes
      • HJM 4004 / 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.
      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.
      • 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 the Senate on a bipartisan vote, 29-18. 
      • HB 1262 / SB 5229 These companion bills would also move the date of the presidential primary, and would allow the option for someone to vote without declaring a party preference. While LWVWA strongly supports that option, we also support holding a presidential primary only when the results impact delegate selection. The national party rules would prevent the results from being used by the Democratic Party. Because of these conflicts we have remained neutral on both bills.
      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! 

      Action Alert! The Local Options Bill (HB 1722 / SB 5708) will create uniformity in state law by allowing jurisdictions across the state to adopt Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and expand voter choice. Click here to contact your legislators and urge them to give voters the chance to use a better voting method if you have not already taken action. 

      Bills the League Supports

      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.  HB 1722 is scheduled for public hearing in the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee on February 20 at 1:30pm, and executive session on February 22 at 8:00am.


      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 bill is waiting for a vote on the House floor. Please contact your representatives, and request that they support this bill and vote to pass it out of the House and into the Senate:

      • 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.

      The following bills are scheduled for executive session in the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee on February 19 at 1:30pm. If one of your Representatives is a member of this committee, please contact her or him, and request that they support these bills and vote to pass them out of committee and onto the next committee.

      • 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.
      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. 
      • 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. 
      • 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.

      Bills the League is Watching 
      • HB 1861 Concerning ballot rejection rates. 
      • HB 1887 Identifying and recognizing best practices through an audit of statewide election reconciliation reports.
      • SB 5823 Requiring witnesses to ballot signature marks to identify themselves.
      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.

      SB 5287 will have a public hearing in the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee on February 20 at 8:00am. If your Senator is on this committee, please urge them to support this bill.

      Bills the League Supports
      • SB 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.  
      Bills the League is Watching 
      • HB 1494SB 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 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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