OLYMPIA -- Elections officials would no longer have their names on the return address for ballot envelopes and in voter pamphlets if they're running for re-election that year, a bill that received final approval in the Senate Tuesday says.
On a 47-0 vote, the Senate sent to Gov. Jay Inslee a bill that keeps the Secretary of State's name off the state voter pamphlet in his or her official capacity, and a county auditor's name off the ballot envelopes and other accompanying materials in years when they are on that year's ballot. Each heads the office that oversees elections, and their names regularly appear on official mailings sent to voters by state or local governments.
Critics said that amounts to an unfair advantage for incumbents. In 2010, Spokane Republicans filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission, contending that Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton's name on ballot envelopes amounted to a use of public funds for her campaign. The PDC later dismissed the claim, saying that it was routine for the auditor's name to be in the return address for all office mail.
House Bill 1858, sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, unanimously passed the House and Senate in slightly different forms last year; it passed unanimously again, with the same language, this year. If signed by Inslee, it would take effect for this year's elections, when Secretary of State Kim Wyman is up for re-election.