NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Hurrah! Same-day voter registration passes out of the Washington State Senate

Wash­ing­ton is one step clos­er to elim­i­nat­ing anoth­er bar­ri­er to vot­ing tonight thanks to the state Sen­ate’s approval of a bill that allows in-per­son vot­er reg­is­tra­tion until 8 PM on Elec­tion Night as well as mov­ing the dead­line for reg­is­ter­ing online or by mail much clos­er to the dead­line for return­ing ballots.

By a vote of twen­ty-nine to twen­ty, the Sen­ate has sent to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives SSB 6021, prime spon­sored by Pat­ty Kud­er­er (D‑48th Dis­trict: Red­mond, Kirk­land, Belle­vue, Clyde Hill). Four Repub­li­cans joined all twen­ty-five Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors to back the leg­is­la­tion on final passage.

“Par­tic­i­pa­tion in our elec­tions has been steadi­ly declin­ing in our state and around the coun­try for decades now. It’s time we take seri­ous action to help vot­ers achieve the rep­re­sen­ta­tion they deserve by remov­ing bar­ri­ers and increas­ing access,” said Kud­er­er in a state­ment. “The core goal of same-day reg­is­tra­tion is to increase turnout, but this is also about restor­ing faith in our civic institutions.”

“This bill will ensure that every eli­gi­ble vot­er who wish­es to make their voice heard will not be turned away at the door because an out­dat­ed dead­line was missed.”

“The voice of the peo­ple, the voic­es of indi­vid­u­als, pro­vide the lifeblood of our democ­ra­cy. I am proud to stand with my Sen­ate col­leagues today as we show our con­stituents and the coun­try the path to fair­er and more inclu­sive elections.”

The Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus’ press release notes that same-day vot­er reg­is­tra­tion has been shown to lead to an increase in turnout. In fact, the five states that saw the high­est turnout in the Novem­ber 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion (as a per­cent­age) all have same day vot­er reg­is­tra­tion laws on their books.

SSB 6021 has an effec­tive date of June 20th, 2019, so it will not be in place for this year’s midterm elec­tions. But as of next year’s Top Two and gen­er­al elec­tions, it will be pos­si­ble to reg­is­ter online or by mail as late as eight days before the dead­line, and in per­son reg­is­tra­tions will be allowed up until 8 PM on Elec­tion Night.

Same-day reg­is­tra­tion is an NPI 2018 leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ty, and we’re absolute­ly thrilled to see it embraced by the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate tonight.

NPI is very grate­ful to the four Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors who chose to say yes to strength­en­ing our democ­ra­cy and mak­ing it eas­i­er to vote: Joe Fain, Brad Hawkins, Mark Milos­cia, and Mau­reen Walsh. Their aye votes are not­ed and appreciated.

The full roll call was as follows.

Roll Call
SSB 6021
Vot­er reg­is­tra­tion period
3rd Read­ing & Final Passage

Yeas: 29; Nays: 20

Vot­ing Yea: Sen­a­tors Bil­lig, Car­lyle, Chase, Cleve­land, Con­way, Darneille, Dhin­gra, Fain, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Hunt, Keis­er, Kud­er­er, Liias, McCoy, Milos­cia, Mul­let, Nel­son, Palum­bo, Ped­er­sen, Ranker, Rolfes, Sal­daña, Takko, Van De Wege, Walsh, Wellman

Vot­ing Nay: Sen­a­tors Angel, Bai­ley, Baum­gart­ner, Beck­er, Braun, Brown, Erick­sen, For­tu­na­to, Hon­ey­ford, King, O‘Ban, Pad­den, Rivers, Schoesler, Shel­don, Short, Wag­oner, War­nick, Wil­son, Zeiger

SSB 6021 now heads to the House, where sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion has been intro­duced and is await­ing action by that cham­ber’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic majority.

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