WSR 06-14-047

PERMANENT RULES

SECRETARY OF STATE


(Elections Division)

[ Filed June 28, 2006, 9:51 a.m. , effective July 29, 2006 ]


Effective Date of Rule: Thirty-one days after filing.

Purpose: The rules outline procedures regarding vote by mail, such as establishing ballot drop site locations and issuing mail ballots.

Citation of Existing Rules Affected by this Order: Amending WAC 434-250-030, 434-250-100, 434-250-320, and 434-261-075.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 29A.04.611.

Adopted under notice filed as WSR 06-10-073 on May 2, 2006.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted at Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's Own Initiative: New 0, Amended 4, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 0, Amended 4, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted Using Negotiated Rule Making: New 0, Amended 4, Repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Date Adopted: June 28, 2006.

Steve Excell

Assistant Secretary of State

OTS-8813.1


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 05-17-145, filed 8/19/05, effective 9/19/05)

WAC 434-250-030   Applications.   (1) As authorized by RCW 29A.40.040, requests for status as an ongoing absentee voter must be made in writing. With the exception of county auditors who conduct primaries and elections entirely by mail, each county auditor must provide applications for requests made in writing. The form must include, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) A space for the voter to print his or her name and the address at which he or she is registered to vote;

(b) The address to which the ballot is to be mailed; and

(c) A space for the voter to sign and date the application. A voter may request status as an ongoing absentee voter by indicating such on a standard voter registration form.

(2) As authorized by RCW 29A.40.020 and 29A.40.030, requests for a single absentee ballot may be made in person, by telephone, electronically, or in writing, and may be made by a family member. Each county auditor must provide applications for requests made in writing. The form must include, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) A space for the voter to print his or her name and the address at which he or she is registered to vote;

(b) The address to which the ballot is to be mailed;

(c) A space for the voter to indicate for which election or elections the application is made; and

(d) A space for the voter to sign and date the application.

(3) As authorized by RCW 29A.40.050, requests for a special absentee ballot must be made in writing and each county auditor must provide the applications. In addition to the requirements for a single absentee ballot, as provided in subsection (2) of this section, the form must include:

(a) A space for an out-of-state, overseas, or service voter not registered to vote in Washington to indicate his or her last residential address in Washington;

(b) A checkbox requesting that a single absentee ballot be forwarded as soon as possible; and

(c) The declaration required in WAC 434-250-050.

The county auditor shall honor any application for a special absentee ballot that is in substantial compliance with the provisions of this section. Any application for a special absentee ballot received more than ninety days prior to a primary or general election may be either returned to the applicant with the explanation that the request is premature or held by the auditor until the appropriate time and then processed.

(4) As authorized by RCW 29A.40.080, requests for an absentee ballot may be made by a resident of a health care facility, as defined by RCW 70.37.020(3). Each county shall provide an application form for such a registered voter to apply for a single absentee ballot by messenger on election day. The messenger may pick up the voter's absentee ballot and deliver it to the voter and return it to the county auditor's office.

(5) If an application for an absentee ballot does not contain sufficient information to enable the auditor to issue the correct absentee ballot, the auditor shall notify the person and explain why the application is not accepted. If, in the judgment of the county auditor, enough time exists to correct the application, the county auditor must request the proper information from the voter in order to facilitate the application. If, in the judgment of the county auditor, insufficient time exists to correct the application, the auditor must issue the absentee ballot as if the voter had listed the county auditor's office as his or her residence. Upon its return, the ballot must be referred to the county canvassing board, and the only offices or issues that may be tabulated are those common to the entire county and those for which it can be conclusively determined the voter is qualified to vote.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611. 05-17-145, 434-250-030, filed 8/19/05, effective 9/19/05.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 06-02-028, filed 12/28/05, effective 1/28/06)

WAC 434-250-100   Depositing of ballots.   Ballots may be deposited in the auditor's office during normal business hours prior to the day of the election, and from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the day of the election. ((Other)) Places of deposit may be staffed or unstaffed.

(1)(a) Staffed sites must be staffed by at least two people. Deposit site staff may be employees of the county auditor's office or persons appointed by the auditor. If two or more deposit site staff are persons appointed by the county auditor, the appointees shall be representatives of different major political parties whenever possible. Deposit site staff shall subscribe to an oath regarding the discharge of the duties.

(b) Staffed deposit sites must be open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. on the day of the election and may be open prior to the election on dates and times established by the county auditor. Staffed deposit sites must have a secure ballot box that is constructed in a manner to allow return envelopes, once deposited, to only be removed by the county auditor or by the deposit site staff. If a ballot envelope is returned after 8:00 p.m. on election day, deposit site staff must note the time and place of deposit on the ballot envelope, and such ballots must be referred to the canvassing board for consideration of whether special circumstances warrant consideration, as documented by the deposit site staff.

(c) A staffed deposit site that only receives ballots is not considered a polling place. A staffed deposit site that both receives and issues ballots is considered a polling place.

(2) Unstaffed sites may be used if the ballot drop box is either:

(a) Constructed and secured according to the same requirements as United States Postal Service postal drop boxes; or

(b) Secured and located indoors.

(3) Ballot boxes must be locked and sealed at all times, with seal logs that document each time the box is opened, by whom, and the number of ballots removed. From eighteen days prior to election day until 8:00 p.m. on election day, two people who are either employees of or appointed by the county auditor must empty each ballot drop box with sufficient frequency to prevent damage or unauthorized access to the ballots. Ballots must be placed into sealed transport carriers and returned to the county auditor's office or another designated location. On election day, ballot drop boxes must be emptied at exactly 8:00 p.m. to ensure that all ballots meet the 8:00 p.m. delivery deadline.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611, 29A.04.530. 06-02-028, 434-250-100, filed 12/28/05, effective 1/28/06. Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611. 05-17-145, 434-250-100, filed 8/19/05, effective 9/19/05.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 05-17-145, filed 8/19/05, effective 9/19/05)

WAC 434-250-320   Deposit sites.   A county auditor conducting a county-wide election entirely by mail must provide at least ((one)) two sites for the deposit of ballots ((in addition to the county auditor's office)). One of the deposit sites may be at the county auditor's office. All other deposit sites must be at geographical locations that are different from the county auditor's office. All deposit sites must meet the requirements of WAC 434-250-100.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611. 05-17-145, 434-250-320, filed 8/19/05, effective 9/19/05.]

OTS-8814.1


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 05-17-145, filed 8/19/05, effective 9/19/05)

WAC 434-261-075   Manual inspection of ballot--Acceptability of marks ((or punches)).   (1) If the voter returns voting responses by mail on any form other than the ballot sent, the votes thereon shall be acceptable and tallied provided that:

(a) Only votes for offices or measures for which the voter is eligible are counted.

(b) The candidate or measure response position for which the voter is voting can be clearly identified.

(c) The ballot issued is not returned, or if returned, contains no marks ((or punches)) indicating an attempt to vote it.

(d) A valid signature on an absentee oath is on file with the county auditor.

The votes accepted must then be duplicated to a ballot that can be read by the electronic voting equipment.

(2) Corrected absentee ballots shall be counted in the following manner:

(a) If a voter follows the instructions for correcting a vote, either the written instructions or other instructions given to the voter by the county auditor, the correction shall be made by duplicating the ballot and then tabulating the duplicated ballot.

(b) If a voter appears to have corrected the ballot in a manner other than as instructed, the vote for that candidate or issue shall not be tabulated unless the voter provides written instructions directing how the vote should be counted or has clearly attempted to erase a mark.

(3) If a voter has indicated a write-in vote on the ballot which duplicates the name of a candidate who already appears on the ballot for the same office, the ballot shall be duplicated to count one vote for the candidate indicated. Such a vote shall be counted pursuant to RCW 29A.60.021.

(4) ((If a voter signs the oath with a mark and does not have two witnesses attest to the signature, the envelope must be treated as if it were unsigned.

(5))) If a ballot contains marks ((or punches)) that differ from those specified in the voting instructions, those marks ((or punches)) shall not be counted as valid votes unless there is a discernable and consistent pattern, to the extent that the voter's intent can clearly be determined. If there is such a pattern, the ballot shall be duplicated to reflect the voter's intent.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611. 05-17-145, 434-261-075, filed 8/19/05, effective 9/19/05. Statutory Authority: RCW 29.04.210, 29.36.150. 02-07-029, 434-261-075, filed 3/12/02, effective 4/12/02.]

Washington State Code Reviser's Office