Several interesting Washington state election bills have already been introduced in the 2011 session. An earlier blog post already mentioned SB 5119, to eliminate the presidential primary in 2012.
Secretary of State Sam Reed is backing bills in each house to move the primary so that it is two weeks earlier. The new primary date would be the first Tuesday in August. These bills are HB 1080 and SB SB 5171. They have the somewhat indirect title of “Facilitating voting for service and overseas voters” instead of a more straightforward title such as “Moving the date of the primary.” The bills would require all candidates for Congress and state office to file no later than mid-May. One of the disadvantages of Washington’s top-two system is that it is impossible for anyone to get on the November ballot (unless the person is a write-in candidate who places first or second in the primary) if that person did not file in the first half of the year, and this bill makes that problem worse. Before 1977, it was possible for minor party and independent candidates in Washington state to get on the November ballot by filing in mid-September.
Bills to make County Auditor elections non-partisan are SB 5081 and HB 1143. In Washington, County Auditors administer elections. The chief sponsors of these bills are Senator Craig Pridemore (D-Vancounver), chair of the Senate Committee that handles election law bills, and Representative Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo), a member of the House Committee that handles election law bills.
Bills have been introduced in each house to cancel the primary for any partisan office, if only two (or fewer) candidates file to appear on the primary ballot. They are SB 5153, by Senator Sharon Nelson (D-Vashon) and HB 1142, by Representative Sherry Appleton.
Representative Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish) has filed HB 1092, to provide for single-member districts for State House elections. Currently, each legislative district elects two members of the House and one State Senator. The bill would provide for cutting each legislative district into two equal population separate districts.
Representative Mike Armstrong (R-Wenatchee) and 27 other Representatives have introduced HB 1030, which would require ex-felons to pay court-ordered financial obligations before they are allowed to register to vote. It is not clear why this bill has been introduced, because it seems that this is already state policy, a policy that the State Supreme Court upheld in 2007 in Madison v State.