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Election Law @ Moritz Home Page

Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz


2008 Key Questions for Key States

Washington

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Washington can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Elected individual (R)

Chief election authority: Secretary of State. § 29A.04.230.

Method of selection: Elected. Const. Art. 3, § 1.

Current officer: Sam Reed (R). State primary: Cynical move or right thing to do, The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), June 5, 2007. (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

Unknown affiliation/elected

Method of selection: Election at large. Const. Art. 4, § 3. Unexpired terms are filled by gubernatorial appointment.

Justices: Gerry L. Alexander (endorsed by D), Charles W. Johnson (unknown), Barbara Madsen (no info), Richard B. Sanders (no info), Bobbe J. Bridge (appointed by Locke (D)), Tom Chambers (endorsed by D), Susan Owens (endorsed by D), Mary E. Fairhurst (D), James M. Johnson (endorsed by R) (Last updated 12/26/07)

Sources:

Local Administrator Training

Other training/mandatory

The secretary of state must establish training and certification programs for local elections officials and personnel. RCW 29A.04.530. Participation is mandatory. RCW 29A.04.540. The secretary of state must administer tests and issue certification to those who have completed the training and passed the tests. RCW 29A.04.530.  State statutes and administrative codes provide no further details.

 

Who tallies precinct results?

County canvassing board - partisanship unconstrained

The county canvassing board tallies precinct results.  RCW 29A.60.200. The county canvassing board consists of the county auditor, the county prosecuting attorney, and the chair of the county legislative body. RCW 29A.60.140.

Who counts provisional ballots?

Local election authority - partisanship unconstrained

The county auditor determines whether to count provisional ballots. RCW 29A.60.195. County auditors are elected.

Who performs state canvass?

Secretary of State - elected

The Secretary of State performs the state canvass. RCW 29A.60.250.  The Secretary is elected.  Const. Art. 3, 1.

Local Administrator

County official - elected

At the local level, Washington elections are run by elected county auditors. RCW 29A.04.216, 36.16.030.

Local Administrators' Party Affiliation

D leaning/elected

Note: Except in King and Pierce counties, Washington conducts almost all of its voting by mail. However, voters who so choose may go in to the offices of local election officials to vote in the traditional manner.

County Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting Technology
King 1,826,732 Cherril Huff (?) Appointed Premier DRE/TSX or unidentified PCOS machine
Pierce 766,878 Pat McCarthy (D) [1] Elected Sequoia Voting Systems - DRE/AVC Edge
Snohomish 669,887 Carolyn Diepenbrock (?) Elected Sequoia Voting Systems - DRE/AVC Edge
Spokane 446,706 Vicky M. Dalton (D) [2] Elected ES&S - Optical Scan/AutoMARK
Clark 412,938 Greg Kimsey (R) [3] Elected Hart InterCivic - DRE/eSlate
Kitsap 240,604 Walter Washington (D) [4] Elected Sequoia Voting Systems - DRE/AVC Edge
Thurston 234,670 Kim Wyman (R) [5] Elected ES&S - Optical Scan/AutoMARK
Yakima 233,105 Corky Mattingly (D) [6] Elected Hart InterCivic - DRE/eSlate
Whatcom 185,953 Shirley Forslof (?) Elected Sequoia Voting Systems - DRE/AVC Edge
Benton 159,463 Bobbie Gagner (D) [7] Elected Hart InterCivic - DRE/eSlate
Skagit 115,700 Jeanne Youngquist (D) [8] Elected Hart InterCivic - DRE/eSlate
Total 5,292,636(82.6% of population)
  • [1] New entry in race for county exec, The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), December 5, 2007.
  • [2] Dalton, Volz seek votes to be chief of elections: Main issue Poll sites or all voting by mail, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), October 26, 2006.
  • [3] Election 08 – Obama rolls in county, state, Columbian (Vancouver, WA), February 10, 2008.
  • [4] Kitsap County Auditor home, http://www.kitsapgov.com/aud/
  • [5] Top-two system will change face of local politics, The Olympian (Olympia, WA), March 19, 2008.
  • [6] It’s Gregoire by 130; is it over? Rossi says election wasn’t clean, Seattle Times, December 24, 2004.
  • [7] 2 Democrats ask opinion on GOP fill-in’s right to run, Seattle Times, September 1990.
  • [8] Jeanne Younguist for Skagit County Auditor, http://jeanneyoungquist.com/Default.aspx

Voter Registration

Registration Deadline

30 days before election

Applicants must register 30 days prior to the election in order to vote in person at the polls on election day. RCW 29A.08.140. However, from 29 days until 15 days prior to the election, applicants may go in person to register to vote absentee. Registrants apply for an absentee ballot in the same visit. RCW 29A.08.145.

Notice of Registration Error

Yes

The county auditor will send a verification notice to applicants who have not supplied all of the required information on their registration forms. RCW 29A.08.110(1).

Opportunity to Correct after Registration Deadline

Yes

If voters correct missing or incorrect information after the deadline, the completed application will be backdated to the original date of mailing or delivery. RCW 29A.08.110.

HAVA matching standards

Hybrid standard

Washington uses a substantial match standard for voters who have submitted registration forms with driver's license or social security number listed.  WA ADC 434-324-040.  The identification number must match exactly, but the rest of the information is a match if "it is clear to...[local election officials] that the information on the application describes the person on the department of licensing record."  Regulations do not describe the standard for matching voters who have submitted their social security numbers rather than their driver's license or state ID numbers, but most states use an exact standard for this type of match.

Will the inability to verify social security number or driver's license number prevent registration?

Voter may cast an ordinary ballot after showing ID at polls

Unmatched applicants must show ID at the polls. WA ADC 434-324-040. Applicants who do not show ID must cast a provisional ballot and return later with ID. However, to avoid this situation, local election officials must first attempt to verify the identity of the voter in other ways, including searching public records and contacting the applicant directly. WA ADC 434-324-045.

 

Challenges

Pre-election challenges

Challenges decided by local election official

A person's right to vote may be challenged before an election by another registered voter or the county prosecuting attorney. RCW 29A.08.810. Pre-election challenges must be brought at the county auditor's office no later than 45 days before an election. The county auditor presides over hearings for these types of challenges. However, voters who register or change their address without updating their registration less than 60 days before an election may be challenged until 10 days before an election or within 10 days of the voter being added to the voter registration database, whichever is later. The county canvassing board presides over hearings for challenges brought during this timeframe. RCW 29A.08.820. The format for voter challenge forms is specified in WA ADC 434-324-115. The county auditor must notify challenged voters of the time and place for a hearing by certified mail. The notice must include a copy of the challenging affidavit that was filed. The challenger and challenged voter may either appear in person or submit testimony by affidavit. The challenger has the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the challenged voter's registration is improper. RCW 29A.08.840. The decision of the county auditor or canvassing board is final subject only to judicial review by the superior court under RCW 34.05.

Election day challenges

Successfully challenged voter must cast a provisional ballot

A person's right to vote may be challenged by another registered voter, the county prosecuting attorney, or a poll worker. RCW 29A.08.810. The challenger must make a signed affidavit subject to the penalties of perjury swearing that, to his or her personal knowledge and belief, the challenged voter either is not qualified to vote or does not reside at the address given on his or her voter registration record. Challengers must exercise due diligence in an attempt to verify that a voter does not reside where his or her registration record claims. Challenged ballots cast at a polling place must be placed in a sealed envelope separate from other voted ballots. RCW 29A.08.820(2)(b). The procedure for challenged ballots is the same for voters challenged before and on election day. The challenger has the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the challenged voter's registration is improper. RCW 29A.08.840. The decision to count or cancel the ballot is made by the county auditor or canvassing board and is final subject only to judicial review by the superior court under RCW 34.05.

Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballot - name not in poll book

Ballot will count if voter was registered and eligible

Provisional ballots are counted if the voter was registered and the voter's name, signature and date of birth, if available, matches a voter registration record. RCWA 29A.60.195; WA ADC 434-253-047. Disposition of provisional ballots cast in specific situations is governed by this regulation, which leaves to the county canvassing boards any decisions not covered in the regulation or state statute.

Provisional ballot - voter cast ballot in wrong precinct

Ballot may be at least partially counted

Ballots cast in the wrong precinct will be counted but only the votes cast for races in which the voter was eligible to vote. Ballots cast in the wrong county will be sent to the correct county along with a voter guide to assist the county in interpreting the votes. WA ADC 434-253-047(4) - (5).

Provisional Ballot Casting Rate - 2006

>2 percent of ballots cast at polls

8.31%

However, note that this figure is misleading, because it measures provisional ballots as a percentage of polling place ballots (not as a percentage of overall ballots cast).  Because Washington only has traditional polling place voting in two counties, the denominator in this calculation is very small, inflating the figure.  Only 18,825 provisional ballots were cast in Washington in 2006.

Provisional Ballot Counting Rate - 2006

80-90 percent

85.3%

Early and Absentee Voting

Convenience Voting

"No excuse" absentee voting only

Washington does not have early voting.

Any voter can cast an absentee ballot.  RCW 29A.40.010.  Ballot applications must be received no sooner than 90 days before the election and no later than the day before the election.  RCW 29A.40.020.  To count, the completed ballot must either be received by 8 p.m. on election day or postmarked by the date of the election.  RCW 29A.48.050.

Note that most counties in the state of Washington conduct all federal elections by mail.

Voting Technology

Voting Technology

N/A

Note: Except in King and Pierce counties, Washington conducts almost all of its voting by mail. However, voters who so choose may go in to the offices of local election officials to vote in the traditional manner.

County Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting Technology
King 1,826,732 Cherril Huff (?) Appointed Premier DRE/TSX or unidentified PCOS machine
Pierce 766,878 Pat McCarthy (D) [1] Elected Sequoia Voting Systems - DRE/AVC Edge
Snohomish 669,887 Carolyn Diepenbrock (?) Elected Sequoia Voting Systems - DRE/AVC Edge
Spokane 446,706 Vicky M. Dalton (D) [2] Elected ES&S - Optical Scan/AutoMARK
Clark 412,938 Greg Kimsey (R) [3] Elected Hart InterCivic - DRE/eSlate
Kitsap 240,604 Walter Washington (D) [4] Elected Sequoia Voting Systems - DRE/AVC Edge
Thurston 234,670 Kim Wyman (R) [5] Elected ES&S - Optical Scan/AutoMARK
Yakima 233,105 Corky Mattingly (D) [6] Elected Hart InterCivic - DRE/eSlate
Whatcom 185,953 Shirley Forslof (?) Elected Sequoia Voting Systems - DRE/AVC Edge
Benton 159,463 Bobbie Gagner (D) [7] Elected Hart InterCivic - DRE/eSlate
Skagit 115,700 Jeanne Youngquist (D) [8] Elected Hart InterCivic - DRE/eSlate
Total 5,292,636(82.6% of population)
  • [1] New entry in race for county exec, The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), December 5, 2007.
  • [2] Dalton, Volz seek votes to be chief of elections: Main issue Poll sites or all voting by mail, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), October 26, 2006.
  • [3] Election 08 – Obama rolls in county, state, Columbian (Vancouver, WA), February 10, 2008.
  • [4] Kitsap County Auditor home, http://www.kitsapgov.com/aud/
  • [5] Top-two system will change face of local politics, The Olympian (Olympia, WA), March 19, 2008.
  • [6] It’s Gregoire by 130; is it over? Rossi says election wasn’t clean, Seattle Times, December 24, 2004.
  • [7] 2 Democrats ask opinion on GOP fill-in’s right to run, Seattle Times, September 1990.
  • [8] Jeanne Younguist for Skagit County Auditor, http://jeanneyoungquist.com/Default.aspx

Does state law require a VVPAT?

Yes

Washington requires voting devices to produce VVPAT. RCW 29.12.085

Polling Place Operations

Who are poll workers?

Appointed by local administrator/some minority party representation

Only 2 counties in Washington use in-person voting (the rest conduct almost all of their voting by mail). In the 2 in-person counties, the county auditor appoints three poll workers for each precinct from lists submitted by the county chairpersons of the major political parties. RCW 29A.44.410, 29A.44.430. If the list is insufficient to provide the requisite number of poll workers, the county clerk may appoint properly trained persons not on the list. Two of the poll workers will be from the party that received the highest number of votes in the previous presidential election. The county auditor may also appoint one or more clerks as assistants. RCW 29A.44.420. Political party representation must be equal whenever possible and no political party may be represented by more than a majority of one.

Poll worker training

Training not required by law

There are no statutes or administrative regulations requiring poll worker training in Washington. Rather, the matter is left up to the discretion of local administrators. In Pierce County, poll workers must be available to attend 3 mandatory training sessions (see here), and they must attend one 3- to 7-hour training in King County (see here). The rest of Washington's 39 counties conduct elections entirely by mail and have no need of poll workers.

King County will switch to all-mail elections in 2009.

Polling hours extension

Unclear

In Washington, "polls must be kept open from seven o'clock a.m. to eight o'clock p.m." RCW 29A.44.070. Washington statutes require votes cast after regular polling hours to be cast provisionally and kept separate from other provisional ballots as well. RCW 29A.44.265. The statute makes clear that it does not by itself authorize such extension but only provides rules for when such a court order is issued. Washington law has no election-specific emergency provisions.

"All qualified electors who are at the polling place at eight o'clock p.m., shall be allowed to cast their votes." RCW 29A.44.070.

Polling place closing times - local times

8:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

11:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

Voter ID requirements

Non-photo ID required

Washington requires that voters provide one of the following forms of identification before signing the poll book: 1) a valid photo identification (driver's license, state ID, student ID, tribal ID); 2) a voter’s voter identification issued by a county elections officer; 3) a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document. See here; RCW 29A.44.205.

Consequences of failure to present ID

Voters must cast provisional ballot

If a voter cannot provide the required identification, the voter will be issued a provisional ballot. RCW 29A.44.205

Follow-up required of voter

No followed-up required


If a voter casts a provisional ballot for lack of ID, the voter need not do anything (e.g., return with identifying documents) to ensure that the ballot is counted.  Rather, the ballot will be counted if the signature on the envelope matches the signature in the voter registration record.  WA ADC 434-253-047.

Emergency Preparedness

Natural Disasters or Emergencies

No election-specific emergency provision

Washington has no substantive provisions that affect conduct of elections in an emergency situation. 

The secretary of state may determine that emergency conditions exist such that non-accessible polling places may be used.  RCW 29A.16.150.  However, most counties in Washington use an all-vote-by-mail system.

Ballot Shortages

Unclear under state law

Washington law is silent regarding what to do when paper ballot supplies are exhausted. However, it does suggest that makeshift substitute ballots cannot be used: No ballots may be used “other than those prepared by the county auditor.” RCW 29A.44.040. Washington conducts elections almost entirely via mail so most of the state will not have to deal with ballot shortages.

What if touchscreens break down?

Nothing in code

No information was found regarding what to do when touchscreen voting machines break down. The Secretary of State's website contains no information (see here).

Post-Election Processes

State certification deadline

About 30 days after election

The secretary of state shall canvass and certify the returns as soon as they have been received from the counties, but no later than the 30th day after the election. RCW 29A.60.250.

Election contest deadline

Within 2 weeks of state certification

The filing deadline for any contest is 10 days following certification. RCW 29A.68.011. If there is a recount, the deadline is 10 days after certification of the results of the recount.

Local count deadline

Between 15 and 21 days after the election

The county canvassing board must complete the canvass and certify the results no later than 15 days after a primary election and 21 days after a general election. RCW 29A.60.190. This provision expires on July 1, 2013.

Audit type

Other

Audits are conducted using a hybrid system: 25% of touchscreen paper trails must be manually reviewed, while the rest may be read by a machine. RCW 29A.60.185

Only touchscreens must be audited. The audit is conducted by the county auditor who randomly selects by lot 4% of the touchscreens in the county. RCWA 29A.60.185

Audit scope

4% of touchscreens only

Only touchscreens must be audited. The audit is conducted by the county auditor who randomly selects by lot 4% of the touchscreens in the county. RCWA 29A.60.185

Candidate-requested recounts

Upon request

Any candidate may obtain a recount by requesting one within 3 business days after certification of results. RCW 29A.64.011. Political parties and any group of five voters may also request recounts under the same rules.

Administrative Recounts

Local officials may order

Washington election code allows recanvassing of ballots by the canvassing board in any precincts where the board finds error, discrepancy or inconsistency in the returns. RCW 29A.60.210.

Automatic Recounts

Other

Automatic recounts will occur when the margin of victory is both less than 2,000 votes and less than 0.5% of the total number of votes for both candidates. RCW 29A.64.021

Defintion of a vote

Intent standard

Washington law requires that the ballot be marked with sufficient definiteness to determine the voter’s choice or intention. RCW 29A.60.040. This general definition allows for different interpretations among judges but also allows for a greater number of irregularly marked ballots to be counted.

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots

Unclear

Washington statutes instruct precinct workers to make a record of any unverified ballots, but give no further guidance. § 29A.44.280. No cases were found considering this issue. If unverified ballots would be considered ineligible to be counted, those ineligible ballots would probably be unidentifiable and inseparably commingled with eligible ones. In Borders v. King County (2005), a recent contest of a Washington gubernatorial election, the trial court refused to use proportional reduction to eliminate such ineligible ballots, because the court said this method was not accepted in the scientific community as a valid statistical practice.  

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes

Unclear

Each provisional voter is supposed to supply his or her name, present and former address, if applicable, and date of birth. § 29A.44.207. The ballot “cannot be counted unless the voter’s name, signature and date of birth, if available, match a voter registration record.” WA ADC 434-253-047. However, the code does not define what is necessary for this information to count as a “match.” The inclusion of the words “if available” seems to suggest that omission of the date of birth will not invalidate the ballot, although an incorrect date of birth might. The code, law and cases provide no further details.  

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

Other

An election contest may be heard by “any justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of appeals, or judge of the superior court of the proper county….” Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 29A.68.011. Jurisdiction appears to lie wherever the plaintiff files suit. See contest of 2004 governor’s election, In re Coday, 130 P.3d 809 (Wash. 2006)(some contests filed in superior courts while others filed directly at the supreme court). Superior and supreme court judges are elected. Wash. Const. Art. IV, § 3, 5.  

Who Performs Presidential recounts?

Bipartisan

Recounts are conducted by teams that must include at least one member of the two major political parties. WA ADC 434-264-100. The teams are appointed by the county auditor, who is part of the county canvassing board. County canvassing boards supervise the recount. 29A.64.041. County canvassing boards consist of the county auditor, the county prosecutor, and the chair of the county legislature. 29A.60.140. All three of these officials are elected. 36.16.030; 36.32.100. Candidates or their representatives may observe the recount. 29A.64.041.