Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bill that lays groundwork for automatic voter registration is continuing onwards

Although we're heading towards the end of the toughest and most challenging legislative sessions in recent memory - one that has seen already seen the unfortunate demise of many good bills - our top legislative priorities are surprisingly still alive, having survived the most recent cutoff.

Among them is SB 5270, a bill modifying voter registration laws that we strongly support. SB 5270 contains a key provision directing county auditors to transfer voter registrations if they receive notice from the Postal Service of an address change. Basically, what this means is that if you move and you notify the Post Office of your change of address, your voter registration will move with you - although it will be changed to "inactive" status.

I testified in favor of SB 5270 in early February, suggesting that the bill be amended to nullify the part that puts a voter's registration on inactive status - which doesn't make a lot of sense. If a voter moves within the state of Washington, why should they have to ask officials to "reactivate" their registration?

Why have barriers to participation in our democratic process?

While the amendment we sought regrettably wasn't made, we still support SB 5270, which takes us one step forward towards the ultimate objective of automatic voter registration and greater suffrage for all Washingtonians.

SB 5270 passed the State Senate a month ago by a vote of thirty two to sixteen (with only some Republicans voting no). Upon being received by the House, it was handed to the State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee, which made a very slight adjustment to clarify one sentence in the bill, and then reported out with a do pass recommendation to General Government Appropriations.

On Friday, General Government Appopriations followed suit, thereby ensuring SB 5270 will survive this Monday's cutoff. Presumably, the bill now goes to Rules, where it will be scheduled to go onto the floor.

The House must vote on it by April 17th, which is the next cutoff.

Assuming the Senate agrees with the small change that has been made, as well as any forthcoming changes, the bill could then go to Governor Gregoire's desk for her signature. We'll continue to track the bill's progress in the days ahead and let you know of additional developments.


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