HOUSE BILL REPORT
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
As Reported by House Committee On:
State Government, Elections & Information Technology
Title: An act relating to collecting youth voter registration sign up information.
Brief Description: Concerning the collection of youth voter registration sign up information.
Sponsors: Representatives Bergquist, Stambaugh, Frame, Hudgins, Sawyer, Slatter, Macri, Gregerson, Peterson, McBride, Doglio, Appleton, Fitzgibbon, Goodman, Tharinger, Farrell, Pollet, Ormsby, Dolan and Riccelli.
State Government, Elections & Information Technology: 2/3/17, 2/7/17 [DP];
Transportation: 2/21/17, 2/22/17 [DPS].
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON STATE GOVERNMENT, ELECTIONS & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Majority Report: Do pass. Signed by 5 members: Representatives Hudgins, Chair; Dolan, Vice Chair; Appleton, Gregerson and Pellicciotti.
Minority Report: Do not pass. Signed by 4 members: Representatives Koster, Ranking Minority Member; Volz, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Irwin and Kraft.
Staff: Megan Palchak (786-7105).
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency overseeing kindergarten through grade 12 public education in Washington. Under common school provisions, if the State Board of Education requires civics coursework, the content must include, but is not limited to, election issues, elections, ballot measures, initiatives, and referenda. Persons under 18 years of age may not register to vote.
Persons who are 18 years and older may register to vote by mail, electronically, or at the Department of Licensing (DOL), state offices, and colleges.
Except for service and overseas voters, only persons registered to vote shall be permitted to vote at: (1) any election held for the purpose of electing persons to public office, (2) any recall election of a public officer, (3) any election held for the submission of a measure to any voting constituency, and (4) any primary election.
The Secretary of State (SOS) is the chief election officer for all federal, state, county, city, town, and district elections. County auditors supervise all primary, general, and special elections. They must provide places for holding elections, and provide the supplies and materials necessary. The SOS must ensure that each county auditor is provided with the most recent version of election laws.
Summary of Bill:
The Legislature expresses intent to increase voter turnout by enabling eligible persons 16 years of age to preregister to vote. Persons 16 and 17 years of age may sign up to vote at the DOL, and all other locations, through electronic means. Persons signed up to vote may not vote until 18 years of age, and his or her name may not be added to the statewide voter registration database until he or she will be 18 years of age prior to the next election.
On Temperance and Good Citizenship Day, social studies teachers must coordinate a voter registration sign up event, with support from county auditors, as resources allow. Teachers must make voter sign up and registration available to students. The event must encourage student who will be 18 years of age the next election to vote.
The OSPI and the SOS must distribute voter registration materials by December 1, annually. The OSPI must consult with the SOS to provide registration methods, and report annually on voter registration process.
Voter sign up records are exempt from public inspection and copying.
Fiscal Note: Available.
Effective Date: The bill takes effect on January 1, 2018.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony:
(In support) The current voting process is inaccessible to youth. Some have to be in the right place at the right time to gain information about deadlines. Since "motor voter," or registering to vote at the Department of Licensing, is the most popular form of voter registration, and most drivers licenses are obtained at 16 years of age, implementing 16-year-old voter registration sign up at the DOL makes sense. Preregistration in schools allows students to connect lessons to society. County auditors are concerned about communication to youth voters, mobility, and associated administrative burden. The purpose of voter registration is to prevent fraud. There may be opportunity through rule making and timing of voter registration cards. The Legislature needs to decide on a 16- or 17-year-old sign-up requirement, rather than a 16- and 17-year-old sign up, to avoid a two-tier system. Rules that apply to adults registered to vote should not apply to minors.
(Other) The Secretary of State supports sign up for persons age 17, and amended language articulating the requirement broadly. There is an existing process for 17 year olds who will be 18 by the next election. This bill will add structure to the existing process.
Persons Testifying: (In support) Julie Anderson; James Paribello, Win/Win Network; Nancy Sipara, League of Women Voters of Washington; and Alisha Agard, The Washington Bus.
(Other) David Elliot, Office of the Secretary of State
Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: None.
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
Majority Report: The substitute bill be substituted therefor and the substitute bill do pass. Signed by 15 members: Representatives Clibborn, Chair; Farrell, Vice Chair; Fey, Vice Chair; Wylie, Vice Chair; Chapman, Gregerson, Kloba, Lovick, McBride, Morris, Ortiz-Self, Pellicciotti, Riccelli, Stambaugh and Tarleton.
Minority Report: Do not pass. Signed by 8 members: Representatives Orcutt, Ranking Minority Member; Hargrove, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Harmsworth, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Hayes, Irwin, Shea, Van Werven and Young.
Minority Report: Without recommendation. Signed by 1 member: Representative Pike.
Staff: Patricia Hasan (786-7292).
Summary of Recommendation of Committee On Transportation Compared to Recommendation of Committee On State Government, Elections & Information Technology:
The Transportation Committee recommended:
adding that persons aged 16 and 17 may sign up to register to vote online, by mail, or at the Department of Licensing (DOL) and other locations prior to completing official voter registration at age 18;
authorizing use of voter registration forms to sign up to register to vote;
specifying that sign-up information may not be included in the electronic file of registered voters;
clarifying that the class C felony regarding voter registration without legal qualification does not apply to persons under age 18 signing up to register to vote; and
classifying persons signing up to register to vote as "pending" rather than "active" or "inactive" with regard to his or her voter registration status and authorizing storage of pending sign-up records.
Fiscal Note: Available on original bill.
Effective Date of Substitute Bill: The bill takes effect on January 1, 2018.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony:
(In support) More than a dozen states allow preregistration for 16 and 17 year olds. This type of effort is already happening with the 17-year-old population in Washington; a 17-year-old person can preregister to vote if they will be age 18 by the next general election. This bill aims to include the 16-year-old population as well using voter sign up. This bill gives every student the opportunity to sign up to vote in school. This is a great way to capture young, future voters, and it is efficient to do so at the DOL while a person is there to apply for his/her driver's license. It will encourage an early habit of civil service.
(Opposed) The voter registration system needs to be balanced between system security and access. There is a concern that data received when a 16-year-old person signs up to vote could become out of date by the time that person turns 18 years old and becomes a registered voter. Public perception could be affected due to people thinking that 16 and 17 year olds are getting registered to vote instead of just signing up; this could negatively effect confidence in the state's election system.
The Office of the Secretary of State (Office) is undergoing a modernization effort to the election management system. The cost to the Office as a result of this bill could be significantly reduced if the bill were timed with the modernization effort; updating the current system to comply with this legislation is a costlier effort. Additionally, security and accuracy would be increased with the new system.
(Other) The DOL would incur expenditures for adapting the driver and vehicle information systems and for additional staff time needed to process the voter sign-ups.
Persons Testifying: (In support) Representative Bergquist, prime sponsor; and Alex Hur, Washington Voting Justice Coalition.
(Opposed) Lori Augina, Office of the Secretary of State.
(Other) Tony Sermonti, Department of Licensing.
Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: None.