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Home » Archives » January 2012 » Trim Elections Costs

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01/07/2012: "Trim Elections Costs"

In an effort to save money and make the elections process more efficient during these tight budget times, Secretary of State Sam Reed is asking the Legislature to lower the cost of producing the statewide Voters’ Pamphlet,

Not printing full ballot measure text in Voters Pamphlet would save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually

A second bill in Reed’s modest legislative package aims to reduce the backlog of out-of-state research requests for the State Library’s small research staff. The State Library is a division of the Office of Secretary of State. The third measure in the package would allow participants in the Address Confidentiality Program, which is also run by the agency, to register in a domestic partnership confidentially.

Making elections less costly and more efficient

Reed said the centerpiece of his elections cost-savings legislation is allowing the full text of ballot measures to be placed online for free on the Secretary of State’s website instead of the printed Voters’ Pamphlet, which is produced by Reed’s Elections Division.

The Secretary of State is required by the Washington Constitution to send the Voters’ Pamphlet to all 3 million Washington households.

“It is very costly to produce and print the Voters’ Pamphlet every year, especially when there are one or more initiatives or referenda on the ballot,” Reed said. “The entire text for Referendum 71 consumed 33 pages in the Voters’ Pamphlet three years ago. That’s a lot of pages devoted to a ballot measure, and we often have three or four measures every year.

“When you consider that few people bother to read the entire text of a ballot measure and how costly it is to include in the printed Voters’ Pamphlet, it makes sense to just put the text of a ballot measure online. If people want read the entire text, it will be accessible on their computer or hand-held device,” added Reed, the state’s top elections officer.

Providing a measure’s text online instead of in the printed Voters’ Pamphlet would save about $364,000 a year.

Reed’s elections cost reduction legislation also would:

• Repeal the requirement to hold a primary election for judicial races when only one or two candidates have filed. That would save more than $1 million about every four years.

• Repeal the requirement to provide County Auditors with printed versions of elections laws and instead require that the laws be posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

• Reduce the paperwork for processing initiative filings by allowing initiative sponsors to file the measure electronically and repealing the requirement to notify initiative sponsors and House and Senate administration by mail

• Clarify that Washington voter registration information can be compared with information in other states to identify voters who are registered in another state and/or voting in another state.

“My office and I have made it a high priority to ensure the integrity of elections in our state. That’s why we already share some voter registration information with other states and the PEW Research Center to avoid voter duplication. This part of the bill helps make Washington’s elections system even stronger,” Reed said.

The elections savings and efficiencies bill will be introduced next week. The 60-day legislative session begins January 9.

Tom Bauschke
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Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
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