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Special election ends April 26 ?>

Special election ends April 26


While many in Washington are looking forward to the state’s first Presidential Primary in eight years, about a quarter of the state’s registered voters have a chance to vote in an earlier election — the April Special Election.

Ballots have been sent to 981,687 voters (24 percent of the state’s registered voters) in 22 of Washington’s 39 counties. Voters need to return their ballots at drop boxes or have them postmarked by April 26 in order to count.

The special election includes 48 ballot measures in 45 voting districts. Most of them are your typical levy and bond measures, but Pierce County has an advisory vote that asks whether the Pierce County Council should allow production, processing and retail sales of marijuana in specified zones in unincorporated Pierce County.

SecWyman talks election with Comcast Newsmakers ?>

SecWyman talks election with Comcast Newsmakers

Kim Comcast inteview

With the General Election just weeks away, the public and media are casting their eyes on the key races, measures and dates before voters cast their ballots.

As the chief elections official in Washington, Secretary of State Kim Wyman is being interviewed more and more leading up to the fall election. Wyman recently sat down for an interview with Comcast Newsmakers host Sabrina Register to talk about what is on the ballot  (all 10 congressional seats, all of the state House and half of the state Senate, four State Supreme Court seats and three initiatives). Key voter registration deadlines, she noted, are Oct. 6 for online or mail-in registration or registration updates and Oct. 27 for in-person new registrations at your county elections office).

You can watch the Comcast interview here. Or you can catch it on CNN Headline News over the next few weeks.

If you haven’t registered and want to vote this fall, make sure to do it before one of those deadlines!

FAQs about those tax advisory votes ?>

FAQs about those tax advisory votes


We’re getting lots of questions about a relatively new form of ballot measure in Washington state — the statewide tax advisory vote.   Here are some FAQs to help shed some light:

  • Q. What are these Advisory Votes 3 through 7 that I see in my Voters’ Pamphlet?
  • A.  These are nonbinding measures that let voters say whether they think the Legislature should “repeal” or “maintain” revenue-generating bills that lawmakers passed this year.  The Legislature used the $200 million from these revenue sources to help balance the new two-year budget.
  • Q. What taxes are we talking about?
  • A. There are five separate revenue bills that are subject to the advisory vote process this election.  They don’t deal with familiar statewide taxes like sales, B&O or property taxes, but rather lesser-known taxes including the leasehold excise tax, commuter aircraft, pediatric dental insurance coverage, telecommunications services, and estate taxes on estates of over $4 million. Each tax gets a separate advisory vote.
  • Q. So if a majority of the public vote goes for the “repeal” option, the tax will go away?
  • A. No, the vote is nonbinding.  That means the Legislature can take note of the public vote — or not. There is not an automatic repeal, as could happen with a regular referendum or initiative process.
  • Q. Where did this advisory vote idea came from?  First I’ve heard of it.
  • A. Actually, it came from a little-noticed provision of Initiative 960 approved back in 2007. That was Tim Eyman’s measure that required a two-thirds vote in both houses for the Legislature to raise taxes in Olympia. (That measure passed, but the State Supreme Court later threw out the two-thirds requirement as unconstitutional.)  The 2007 debate and press coverage focused almost exclusively on the two-thirds issue, but I-960 also said that if lawmakers passed taxes in Olympia, it would automatically trigger a tax advisory vote in the next general election.
  • Q. And this is the first time we’ve had these advisory votes on the ballot?
  • A. Well, no.  We voted on No. 1 and No. 2 last fall. They didn’t get a whole lot of attention because that was the big presidential election year, including electing our governor and all the statewide officials, the U.S. House delegation, most of the Legislature and, oh, did we mention gay marriage and marijuana legalization?
  • Q. What happened with those two advisory votes? What were they about?
  • A. One imposed a higher tax rate on some large out-of-state banks and the other lowered the petroleum tax but extended its life over a longer-than-originally-approved number of years.  The “repeal” vote prevailed in both cases. The Legislature, facing a multibillion-dollar budget gap, did not seriously consider repeal of taxes that had been approved overwhelmingly by both houses and were being used to balance the budget.
  • Q. Is that why this year’s advisory vote numbers start with No. 3?
  • A. Exactly.
  • Q. Another question: Why are the tax issues presented the way they are in the Voters’ Pamphlet? There’s no description or summary by the Attorney General that gives me some background on each bill, and I don’t see pro and con arguments. All I see are the bill numbers, the statement that my legislators passed it “without a vote of the people,” a few lines on the subject matter and that it goes for “government spending.”
  • A. The language is spelled out in the initiative, right down to the phrases you mentioned.  The 10-year revenue projection, unlike the six-year projection used by agencies and budgetwriters, is required, and is prepared by the governor’s budget office. There is no provision for pro and con statements or any background information explaining the tax or what it pays for. Wordsmiths in the Attorney General’s Office are not permitted to write the explanatory statements or ballot title, as they do for initiatives and referenda. Those statements are subject to court review for bias or because one side or the other wants different wording. In the case of advisory votes, the AG fills in the blanks that are provided in I-960 and the Secretary of State likewise is not permitted to add explanatory information about each measure.
  • Q. Why do I see 147 legislators’ name, addresses, email, etc.?
  • A. Again, that is mandated by I-960, along with how each one voted on each of the revenue bills. Presumably that is so a voter can contact their delegation to ask questions or give feedback for or against their tax votes.
  • Q. Where can I get more information?
  • A. Voters can access the full text of the five bills from the Online Voters’ Guide. For each advisory vote, there is a link called “Full Text” in the upper right hand corner.  Voters can get more information about the 10-year cost projection via the Online Voters’ Guide, by linking to the link called “Office of Financial Management.”  The Secretary of State’s Office generally does not answer questions about the substance of legislation or why the Legislature passed it.  The Legislative Hotline is 1 (800) 562-6000.
Looking for historic Voters’ Pamphlets? State Library has ‘em ?>

Looking for historic Voters’ Pamphlets? State Library has ‘em

fallingforstatelibraryJust as turkey and football are Thanksgiving staples, the Voters’ Pamphlet is a regular feature during each fall’s General Election in Washington. In fact, you should have received the Voters’ Pamphlet in the mail for this year’s election.

Did you know that the Office of Secretary of State is required by the Washington Constitution to send the Voters’ Pamphlet to every residence in the state? We’ve been doing just that since the state’s very first Voters’ Pamphlet, in 1914. Below is the front cover of that historic document.

If you want to see the state General Election Voters’ Pamphlet from previous years, just check out this collection available courtesy of the State Library.

This is the latest in a series of blog posts, called “Falling for the State Library,” on your Washington State Library’s many online services and features. The Library is a proud division of the Office of Secretary of State.


Online voter registratation deadline is Monday ?>

Online voter registratation deadline is Monday

Chase Warren

Chase Warren, who just turned 18, holds up his voter registration form, completed on his birthday. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Way)

Congratulations to Chase Warren of Olympia, not only for his 18th birthday but for remembering to register to vote! Chase stopped by our office Friday afternoon, quickly and painlessly filled out a voter registration form, and left as a Washingtonian voter. He helped Washington move just a little closer to the 4-million-registered-voter mark.

Chase chose to register the old-school way, using a paper registration form. But you can also register online or via mail. Just remember that next Monday (Oct. 7 ) is the last day to register to vote online or by mail in time to vote in the General Election later this fall. Monday is also the last day to update your registration status, such as a change of address.  If you’ve never registered to vote in Washington, don’t fret.  You have until Oct. 28 to register in person at your county elections department!


ERIC helps WA upgrade voter registration ?>

ERIC helps WA upgrade voter registration


Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman and the 39 county election departments are breaking new ground as they begin updating over 53,000 voter registration records and mail voter registration information to more than 140,000 potentially eligible, but unregistered residents.

Updating such a large number of records and conducting focused registration education recently has become possible, thanks to the state’s leadership and participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

ERIC is a non-profit organization that assists states with improving the accuracy of voter rolls and increasing access to voter registration for eligible citizens.  It is governed and managed by states that choose to join. It was formed by seven states in 2012 with assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts.  The seven charter states are Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Washington.  More states are expected to join.

Wyman is delighted with the new approach:

“ERIC provides states with a powerful new set of tools that improve the accuracy of voter rolls and expand access to voter registration, achieving both goals more efficiently. We need to continue modernizing our voter registration system to be more accurate, cost-effective, and efficient.”

Using reports from ERIC, elections officials will remove duplicate registrations, cancel registrations of deceased voters, better process address updates and more efficiently manage records of voters who have moved and registered in another state.  The program follows strict state and federal guidelines to protect voter rights and maintain clean voter rolls.

The process of collecting hand-written paper forms, entering the data into computers and maintaining up-to-date information is too slow and expensive to keep pace with our highly mobile society, Wyman said.

“Research confirms there is more we can do to improve the current system,” said state Elections Director Lori Augino. “By joining with other pioneering states, ERIC members are leading the way in upgrading voter registration.”

States have conducted “list maintenance” programs since at least 1993, when sweeping new federal voter registration (more…)

April special election ballot-counting winding down ?>

April special election ballot-counting winding down


Voting in the April special election ended on Tuesday, and the 21 counties that had measures or races have been busy counting ballots. For those of you wondering how certain races or bond or levy measures are faring, go here to see the results (just click on the county name after opening the link to view the results) for all the counties that were part of the special election, or a county-by-county breakdown of the results. Those counties will certify the April election results on May 7.

September is National Voter Registration Month ?>

September is National Voter Registration Month

If you haven’t registered yet to vote in Washington and need a little prompting, just realize there is an entire month devoted to this one easy but important action.

September is National Voter Registration Month. Secretary of State Sam Reed is joining fellow members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) to work toward the goal of making eligible voters aware of registration deadlines and requirements for the General Election ending Nov. 6.  Reed and other NASS members are also using this as an opportunity to promote state resources to help with the registration process.

“This month is all about reminding citizens to get registered,” said Reed.  “Voting is one of our most important rights and we want to start reaching out to voters now so they will be prepared before the upcoming election.”

Reed and other Secretaries of State throughout the U.S. want to encourage voter participation and increase awareness of state requirements and deadlines as much as possible. Despite record-breaking registration and voter turnout levels in many states for the November 2008 presidential election, 6 million potential voters didn’t cast a ballot because they missed a voter registration deadline or didn’t know how to register to vote.

There is still time to get registered to vote if you haven’t already. Eligible citizens who are 18 years of age or older may register to vote, and every state except North Dakota has a registration requirement for voting. Washington is one of 10 states currently offering online voter registration and is the first state to offer voter registration via Facebook.

The deadline for online registration, address changes and other registration updates for the 2012 General Election is October 8.  General Election ballots will be mailed out to registered voters on October 19, and the deadline to register in person for new Washington voters is October 29. (more…)