Capitol

The Capitol Building is seen Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Olympia.

Depending on how things shape up in the state House of Representatives, Washington could soon allow automatic voter registration. Senate BIll 6353, introduced by Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, passed out of the Senate earlier this month on a 34-13 vote and is now awaiting review and action in the House.

“Voting is a right, not a privilege,” Hunt said in a press release. “We need to make voting as easy as possible for every citizen in Washington and that starts with registration. We now have the technology to make it seamless, so why wouldn’t we? Automatic voter registration will increase the opportunity to register and vote without endangering the security of the election process.”

Language in the legislation stipulates that beginning in 2019 anyone who applies for or renews an enhanced driver’s license at the Department of Licensing will simultaneously be registered to vote. The bill also instructs agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and the military to implement automatic voter registration, or provide proof of a legitimate reason for an exemption.

“It is our most fundamental duty to make sure our democracy is accessible to every single eligible voter,” Hunt added. “This legislation is just one more bill in a larger push to expand access to democracy in every corner of our state.”

Additionally, the Senate passed legislation that is intended to improve campaign finance laws so that political advertising is clearly identified with the name of the person or group who paid for it. Collectively, the bills are part of the Senate’s Access to Democracy package, which  also includes the Washington Voting Rights Act, same Day Voter Registration, and the Disclose Act. 

 Up to date information on the progress of the bill can be found online at http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=6353&Year=2017.

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