For The Reporter
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a series of bills into law Monday intended to help people better access the voting and election process in Washington state.
Inslee signed House Bill 2595 (automatic voter registration), House Bill 1513 (youth voter pre-registration), House Bill 2406 (improved election security and auditing) and other bills at Foster High School.
House Bill 2595 changes state law so that when citizens obtain enhanced drivers’ licenses or identification cards, they are automatically registered to vote.
According to a summary of the bills in a press release by the Washington House Democrats, automatic voter registration boosts the number of registered voters and produces better turnout in elections.
According to the release, nine states have already adopted automatic voter registration.
“I firmly believe you get better government when you have better participation. We should remove hurdles to the process. Nothing will change the requirements for voting. You still have to be 18 years old, a resident of Washington, and a U.S. citizen. This bill makes voter registration easier and up to date with modern technology,” Rep. Zack Hudgins, chair of the House State Government, Elections & Information Technology committee, said in the press release.
House Bill 1513 enacts the Future Voter Program, which allows people to pre-register to vote at the age of 16, according to the release. It went on to say that 12 states allow pre-registration at 16, and four states allow it at age 17.
“We’ve found that when people are pre-registered to vote earlier, there’s a much higher likelihood that people will become regular voters and more engaged. Pre-registering 16 and 17-year-olds to vote gives them the opportunity to start from day one voting as soon as they turn 18, and that should make them lifetime voters. That’s the ultimate goal,” Rep. Steve Berguist said in the press release.
House Bill 2406 addresses election security in the state.
According to the release, a report from the Center for American Progress gives Washington a “C” on election security.
The release lists improvements for the election-security issue, among them:
• The outlining of “best practices” for election audits by requiring county auditors to audit election results using at least one of the approved methods;
• Requiring vendors of voting systems to disclose security breaches in their systems;
• Requiring the Secretary of State to investigate the cause of discrepancies found during audits;
• Authorizing the Secretary of State to decertify faulty or suspect systems;
• Requiring that random check procedures include a process for expansion of an audit in cases that reveal a discrepancy;
• Requiring the Secretary of State to report on recommendations for adopting best practices and uniform procedures around random checks for ballot counting equipment;
• Allowing for risk-limiting audits, considered the new ‘gold standard’ of post-election audits.
“Due to recent national events, Americans have become justifiably concerned with the security of our election system. This law encourages best practices for election security through auditing and/or emergency planning. These recommendations built off current practice by elections auditors, and are a result of many interim conversations with elections experts,” Hudgins said in the release.