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Spin Control

Election beauty in the eye of the beholder?

OLYMPIA -- Just because legislative budget committees are under the gun to get their work done doesn't rule out a few light moments.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee was discussing a bill that would expand primaries so that any office up for election is on the primary ballot, even if only one candidate has filed for the position. Under current law, in some cases when only one or two candidates file for some offices, they just go straight to the general election ballot.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said there was a time when two-person races were on the primary ballot, even though it was clear both candidates would move on to the general election: "We used to call those beauty contests."

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, said: "I think you're being a little generous to call your last election a beauty contest." 

The same bill would require ballot return envelopes to have prepaid postage. Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, said that was added to the proposal by a different committee because requiring voters to pay for postage was akin to a poll tax: "You have to pay to participate." (For a previous item on the postage vs. poll tax argument, click here.)

The state would reimburse counties for their postage costs under the bill. Katie Blinn of the Secretary of State's office, which runs elections for the state, had only one question about that: "Will it be funded in the budget?"

Right now, it isn't. 

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.