LAA Releases Washington State Election Bill Analysis

While many ideas may first start out on napkins, not all of them are good ones. In November 2021, a King County elections official confirmed that a voter could mail in a napkin with a candidate’s name written on it as a write-in ballot. The defense of this statement was that officials would base their determination on “voter intent” due to Washington’s election laws.

In response, a number of bills have come from the Washington state legislature with an eye to reforming the state’s election process, including reforming the state’s mass-mail-in ballot system.

Look Ahead America’s Voter Integrity Project has released a report analyzing two of the Republican-led bills, one each from the house and senate, to see if they actually resolve any of the underlying security issues. We came away with mixed results.

From the report on H.B. 1003:

Although it will be a lucrative contract for whichever paper and printing company wins the bid, this bill quite literally papers over the actual problems and loopholes that exist in election security allowable under the current laws.

From the report on S.B. 5143:

This bill has a number of positive and even quite progressive aspects: it makes voter ID available for free and makes election day a state holiday. This eliminates many complaints of voter suppression as it provides a day to vote in person and makes photo ID free for the poor. There is nothing racist about these measures.

It also makes ballot harvesting a felony and allows only for absentee ballots/vote by mail for those who request them as opposed to mass mailing. It also makes a copy of all absentee ballot requests available. Essentially this eliminates vote by mail, which has a number of election security vulnerabilities easily exploited. This does not entirely eliminate the vulnerability, but it is a good start.

Look Ahead America’s Director of Research, Ian Camacho, made the following statement:

Fortunately neither bill makes things worse.  While HB 1003 is largely security theater, SB 5143 on the other hand solves a lot of problems with mail in ballots and also is extremely progressive in some of its proposed ideas and is one that the state should seriously consider.

The complete report can be found at https://lookaheadamerica.org/wa-electionintegrity/

Our PDF of the press release on this analysis appears here: PR WA election integrity