Dear friends and neighbors,
Voting is the foundation of our democracy. As we celebrate Independence Day this week, I want to share good news about voting access here in Washington.
Since 2018, Washington has led the country in legislation that increases access to the ballot while still ensuring the security and integrity of the election process. This year we took steps to empower voters, remove barriers to voting, and increase transparency in elections. We also strengthened previous laws such as the Washington Voting Rights Act and Automatic Voter Registration, making democracy more accessible to historically underrepresented groups. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Senate Bill 5082 removes confusing advisory votes from ballots, eliminating the remnants of an unconstitutional initiative that cost the state and local governments millions of dollars each election.
- Senate Bill 5208 improves the state’s voter registration system by allowing people to register to vote online with a social security number, instead of limiting online registration to only people with a driver’s license number.
- Senate Bill 5112 streamlines the state’s Automatic Voter Registration program by allowing people to “opt out” through the mail rather than in person at an agency.
- House Bill 1048 helps marginalized communities stop racially discriminatory voting practices before they go into effect. This update to the Washington Voting Rights Act allows organizations and tribes to file a notice of intent to challenge an election system on behalf of their members and ensure that the costs of determining whether a violation exists is equitably shared between communities and the local governments who represent them.
- Senate Bill 5152 provides protections for candidates and campaigns in response to the growing use of manipulated media in election campaigns.
I’m proud of our state’s efforts to expand voting access and participation. This work fundamental to the freedom we celebrate on the Fourth of July each year. I hope you enjoy the holiday with family and friends.
Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter. I will continue to send weekly updates on key policies passed during this year’s legislative session. If you missed my previous updates on gun safety, reproductive freedom, public education, housing, LGBTQ+ rights, climate action, criminal justice reform, health care, community facilities improvements, or behavioral health, they are available on my website. Please reach out with any questions at Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov.