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Bills call for responses to initiative fiscal statements, tighter rules for write-ins

by caprecord

The state’s ballots and voters pamphlets could look different in upcoming elections if bills considered in a House committee Tuesday get passed.

The House State Government Committee considered several bills that would make changes to election ballots and pamphlets.

House Bill 1228 would call for initiative backers and opponents to submit responses to a measure’s fiscal statement, which says how much it costs.

The bipartisan bill was cosponsored by representatives Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, and Norm Johnson, R-Yakima, who addressed the committee. Johnson says he sponsored the bill in response to Initiative 1351, which reduces class size.

“Voters need to know if they accept an initiative what the fiscal impact would be and whether they would face tax increases to pay for specific outcomes,” Johnson said.

Other bills discussed were:

  • HB 1143, which would allow voters to return ballots by fax or by email, without following up with a paper ballot. This already applies to military and overseas voters.
  • HB 1548, which would raise the threshold of write-in candidates who make it past the primary and to the general election ballot from 1 percent to 5 percent.
  • HB 1635, requested by the Secretary of State, which would require write-in candidates to declare their candidacy before the election.

Write-in candidates have been nominated and put on ballots against their will in the state’s smallest counties, said Sheryl Moss, program manager of certification and training in the Secretary of State’s office.

“For Wahkiakum County commissioner, it only took eight votes to put that candidate on the ballot,” she said.

You can watch the entire hearing in TVW’s archives.