Washington State’s vote at home system is an inspiration to many people across the United States. It allows people to fulfill their civic obligations securely and easily, and it is a system that is hard to manipulate to suppress the vote. So, naturally, Donald Trump backers like Doug Ericksen want to get rid of it.
State Senator Doug Ericksen is preparing legislation to return Washington state to in-person voting, require voter ID at the polls and invalidate most absentee ballots that arrive by mail after Election Day. Ericksen, a Ferndale Republican, claimed without providing evidence or citing specifics that there are “longstanding concerns” about election security.
Ericksen is one of Donald Trump’s most ardent fans and admirers. He jumped on board the Trump bandwagon early in the 2016 cycle, and was the co-chair of Trump’s Washington State operation along with Don Benton.
The legislation Ericksen is “preparing” is dead on arrival in the truest sense of that term, and Ericksen surely knows that. The Washington State Senate will remain controlled by Democrats in 2021. There’s no reason why Ericksen’s nonsense should consume any of the Legislature’s valuable time and attention, especially given the reduced capacity committees will have for hearing bills.
Nonetheless, Ericksen and other Trump boosters are signaling that they’re going to do their darndest to distract us from talking about ideas that really would improve elections here in Washington State, like abolishing Eyman’s push polls, switching to a two-year cycle for initiatives and referenda, or reforming the process for developing ballot titles, or providing for citizen review of initiatives.
The discussion over whether Washington should have vote at home or not is over. We made a decision over a decade ago that we were going to be a vote at home state like Oregon. Since them, we have added drop boxes and provided for prepaid postage on ballot return envelopes to make voting even easier.
The work we’ve done is widely admired around the country, and for good reason.
We’re not going backwards.
Though recently reelected Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman has not always mounted a strong defense of vote at home when appearing in front of Republican audiences, she did make it clear, when asked about Ericksen’s legislation by the Bellingham Herald, that she opposes it.
“Washington election officials have worked diligently for more than ten years to make the state’s vote-by-mail system accessible, secure, and fair,” Wyman told The Bellingham Herald in an email.
“I’m proud of the hard work and thoughtfulness the Office of the Secretary of State and county election officials have put into making this system successful. I believe it has served as a model for other states looking to transition to full mail-in voting,” she said.
We agree that Washington has served as a model and should continue to. This is another area where we and Kim Wyman agree. We hope that Secretary of State Wyman will use her influence to urge Ericksen’s Republican colleagues not to cosponsor his counterproductive legislation. The pandemic has demonstrated just how useful and valuable vote at home is. Let’s build on that, and discuss ways to make it easier for people to participate in our democracy, not harder.