Washington State House Democrats


Elections-measures advancing in state House

OLYMPIA – Rep. Gerry Pollet is no stranger to elections issues. As a case in point, one needn’t look any further than his work “to get more citizens hooked on voting.”  

His advocacy for elections-measures is exemplified by Pollet’s continuing a mission he took on last year, namely supporting the placement of ballot-dropboxes on college and university campuses. 

But that measure is just a third of the elections-bill threesome the Seattle representativeis backing this legislative session. He’s co-sponsoring House Bill 1267 (election-day registration), House Bill 1279 (16- and 17-year-old preregistration by motor-voter), and House Bill 1290 (increasing the availability of ballot dropboxes, especially in higher-education facilities). 

Pollet last year worked with students and administrators at North Seattle Community College and the University of Washington to advocate that King County place voting dropboxes on the campuses. The only north and northeast Seattle dropbox in recent years had been at Magnuson Park. As a result of his advocacy, the King County Elections office agreed to place a ballot dropbox at the UW campus, which was used by thousands of voters.  

“Dropboxes at campuses provide access to voting by thousands of students and staff,” he emphasized. 

“In addition to folks in the higher-education community, ballot dropboxes provide an important service for low-income voters. The dropboxes remove the postage cost of vote-by-mail, which is a strategy that increases voter-turnout. Greater citizen-participation in the elections process is a goal that all of us can and should wholeheartedly embrace.” 

Angie Weiss, Director of the ASUW Office of Government Relations, re-emphasized the importance of strengthening voter-turnout, particularly with the dropboxes. 

“When students have increased access to voting, we become more engaged citizens,” Weiss said. “The ballot drop-off van last year at the University of Washington received more than 9,000 ballots from students and community members. We are lucky to have representatives such as Gerry Pollet who help make this possible.” 

Pollet noted that voter-turnout, in most every age group, “seems to be getting worse and worse every election. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Democracy works best when more people who are qualified to vote do vote.”  

HB 1267 would increase opportunities to vote by authorizing online voter-registration eight days before an election. Right now, such registration is allowed no later than 29 days before an election. The measure would OK registration in person at the county auditor’s office up until 5 p.m. on election day. Currently, in-person registration is allowed no later than eight days before the election.  

HB 1279 directs that 16- and 17-year-old citizens could preregister when they apply for their driver’s license. Right now, young people who are at least 17 and a half years old can preregister if they will be 18 at the next election.  

HB 1290 would require county auditors to place ballot dropboxes on the campuses of every one of the state’s colleges and universities, including branch campuses. These 39 local auditors would also be called upon to set up an advisory committee, including student-representatives, charged with establishing an outreach plan for making the dropboxes most-accessible to students and staff.  

Having all cleared their House standing-committee hurdle, this elections-bill trio is in the House Rules Committee awaiting the scheduling of House-floor discussion.