by David Ammons | January 7th, 2011
Secretary of State Sam Reed is urging lawmakers to move Washington’s Primary Election two weeks earlier, to early August. He also asks for a law requiring ballots to be in county elections offices by Election Day, rather than simply postmarked that day.
Reed, who has spent more than 30 years administering state and local elections, says the earlier primary would help Washington comply with a new federal law requiring military ballots to be mailed out 45 days before Election Day.
The state gives overseas ballots transit time of more than 50 days, counted the three weeks post-election transit time that is allowed. But that requires a waiver from the federal government, as the state secured for the 2010 election. Reed said it’s a smart idea for lawmakers to avoid any question by moving the primary a little earlier.
A related piece of Reed’s legislation would allow military and overseas voters to cast their voted ballots by fax or email, as long as a voter declaration is signed and the signature is verified by their home county.
The Secretary of State’s other elections measures include:
• Establishing Washington as a full vote-by-mail state, meaning that Pierce County would join the rest of the state in conducting its elections strictly by mail.
• Requiring absentee and mail ballots to be received by each county elections office no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, rather than just postmarked no later than Election Day.
• Reed and Gov. Chris Gregoire have jointly requested the Legislature to suspend the 2012 Washington Presidential Primary, which would save the state budget $10 million.
Other proposals in the package offered by Reed’s office include giving corporations and other entities more options in how they receive notifications from the Secretary of State’s Corporations and Charities Division, and making changes to the law affecting Washington’s charities community.
This year’s 105-day legislative session begins Monday.