HB 1932: Allowing Even Year Elections for Localities
House Bill 1932 would allow Washington localities to switch their elections to even-numbered years (NPI artwork)

Editor’s Note: The fol­low­ing are NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve’s pre­pared remarks in sup­port of House Bill 1932, leg­is­la­tion prime spon­sored by State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mia Gregerson and cospon­sored by State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Darya Fari­var that would empow­er local gov­ern­ments to move their elec­tions to even-num­bered years. HB 1932 was heard today by the House State Gov­ern­ment & Trib­al Rela­tions Com­mit­tee, chaired by State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bill Ramos. 

Chair Ramos, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cheney, and mem­bers of the com­mit­tee, good after­noon. For the record, I am Andrew Vil­leneuve from the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, here in strong sup­port of House Bill 1932.

I extend NPI’s most pro­found thanks to Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Gregerson and Fari­var for their work on this impor­tant and need­ed legislation.

Very sim­ply, the rea­son to do this is because the data over­whelm­ing­ly shows that when local elec­tions are moved to even-num­bered years, turnout goes way, way up — and it becomes more diverse. We’re just com­ing out of a local elec­tion year in which we had the worst vot­er turnout in Wash­ing­ton State his­to­ry. Only 36.41% of those eli­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate returned a ballot.

House Bill 1932 is one of two pro­pos­als before this cur­rent Leg­is­la­ture that would update an old law dat­ing back to the 1960s which locks cities and towns in Wash­ing­ton into odd-num­bered years. The oth­er is Sen­ate Bill 5723, which is in the Rules Com­mit­tee on the oth­er side of the rotunda.

The main dif­fer­ences between the two are as follows.

First, Sen­ate Bill 5723 only per­tains to cities and towns, while House Bill 1932 also extends to oth­er lev­els of local gov­ern­ment, such as ports and school districts.

And sec­ond, as you heard Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gregerson say a few min­utes ago, House Bill 1932 has a manda­to­ry trig­ger, where­as Sen­ate Bill 5723 is entire­ly vol­un­tary — it’s 100% opt-in. It’s up to you as our elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives to decide which path you want to take — NPI is very sup­port­ive of both approaches.

I want to close by not­ing that this is some­thing vot­ers real­ly want.

Our polling has found a ratio to 2:1 sup­port and oppo­si­tion statewide in favor of even year elec­tions for local­i­ties. In King Coun­ty last cycle, vot­ers had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to change the coun­ty char­ter to move elec­tions to even-num­bered years — and over 69% vot­ed yes. King Coun­ty Char­ter Amend­ment 1 was one of thir­teen such pro­pos­als around the coun­try that all got approved.

From Flori­da to Cal­i­for­nia to Col­orado and here, every sin­gle bal­lot propo­si­tion to adopt even year elec­tions passed. Every one.

As the lead­ing nation­al experts on elec­tion tim­ing have not­ed, this is the only elec­toral reform avail­able to us that can as much as dou­ble turnout in local elec­tions while also great­ly diver­si­fy­ing it. Let’s lis­ten to the vot­ers — please give this bill a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion. Thank you!

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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