You know, there’s this other local blogger who’s name escapes me at the moment, who claims to be all over election reform and all that, and I’ve been waiting all day to see his analysis of the reform package proposed yesterday by Secretary of State Sam Reed (a Republican)… but so far, nada. Hmm. I guess for some people election reform isn’t really election reform unless it makes it harder to vote.
Reed’s proposal (PDF), on the other hand, is actually quite sensible, and includes two major provisions: moving the primary to August, and allowing for online voter registration via the SOS website.
Ask any county auditor in the state, and they’ll tell you that their number one reform priority is moving the primary… preferably to the spring, but they’ll take August if that’s what they can get. Reed’s proposal moves the primary from the 3rd Tuesday in September to the 3rd Tuesday in August, giving elections officials a much needed cushion before ballots go out for the general election. Reed’s proposal also makes a few other tweaks in this area, increasing the time for certifying a primary from 10 to 15 days, and requiring military and overseas ballots to be mailed out 30 days before the election (an impossible timeline under the current system.) Reed would also ease the legislative fundraising freeze to help accommodate the accelerated schedule.
Reed’s other major proposal would allow voters with a WA state driver’s license or state ID card to register to vote online; the SOS would obtain the voter’s signature from the Department of Licensing to pull into the voter rolls. This is an incredibly progressive, efficient, cost effective reform that would make WA only the second state to allow online voter registration. The only reason I can see why someone might argue against it would be if they don’t want to make it easier for citizens to register to vote. (Um… I expect there to be some passionate opposition.)
There are a bunch of other lower profile reforms in Reed’s proposal, mostly dealing with cleaning up the election statutes, and clarifying some of the rules regarding ballot measure petitions. One change that immediate stood out to me would make it “a gross misdemeanor to circulate a petition that appears to support a measure that differs from the actual measure attached to the petition.” Hmm. I wonder if that would apply to say, the time Eyman printed a petition for a property tax cut initiative with the headline “No New Income Tax!”…? Sure hope so.
While there are other reforms I would like to see, all in all, I can’t find anything in Reed’s proposal that I might object to. After the recent escalation of partisan tensions over the GOP’s voter challenge debacle, I was kind of dreading Reed’s proposal, but once again he has pleasantly surprised me. This appears to be a package of reasonable, modest reforms, and I hope beyond hope that it receives the kind of bipartisan support it deserves.