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Eye On Olympia

Voting early, if not often…

Both the House and Senate have approved moving Washington’s primary election date (that’s the election in September) to four weeks earlier, starting next year.

“This victory has been years in the making,” said Secretary of State Sam Reed.

Really? Really. A similar proposal died last year, wrapped around the axle with Republican calls for photo identification of voters and purging illegal aliens from voting rolls.

County auditors have long complained that about the tight timeline between September and the general election in November. It’s too short a window, they say, to cope with any election problems from September and then to print up and mail out the November ballots. (Recall that the governor’s election two years ago wasn’t decided for months. If that sort of challenge was raised in a primary vote, election officials say, it would be disastrous.)

Assuming that Gov. Chris Gregoire signs the change into law, we’ll all be voting in August now. A small number of lawmakers had objected, saying that many people are vacationing in August. But with the increasing popularity of voting by mail, other lawmakers said that’s less of a problem than it once was.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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