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ensure that every eligible voter who wishes to make their voice heard will not be turned away at the door because an outdated deadline was missed.”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