WSR 99-05-054



[ Filed February 12, 1999, 3:37 p.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 99-01-064.

Title of Rule: Set procedures for optical scan and absentee ballots; repeal requirement for cancellation notices.

Purpose: To standardize procedures state-wide for optical scan and absentee ballots and to remove the requirement for inactive voter cancellation notices.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 29.04.080, 29.04.210.

Summary: Specific language is added to further define the inspection and enhancement of optical scan ballots and to set procedures for replacement absentee ballots; the requirement to send cancellation notices to inactive voters is repealed.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: To standardize procedures for optical scan ballots and replacement absentee ballots; remove the ineffective and expensive inactive voter cancellation notice.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting, Implementation and Enforcement: Sheryl Moss, Office of the Secretary of State, (360) 664-3653.

Name of Proponent: Office of the Secretary of State, governmental.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: The amendments will standardize the inspection and enhancement of optical scan ballots. Procedures are also set that allows for replacement absentee ballots. These procedures will provide standards to [be] followed throughout the state. The requirement for notices when inactive voters are cancelled is removed. Inactive voters are already sent several notices and, in most cases, no longer live at the address to which the notices are sent.

Proposal Changes the Following Existing Rules: Further defines ballot enhancement to only apply to optical scan ballots. Defines which ballot, the original or replacement, is counted for absentee ballots when both are returned. Additional absentee ballots are not counted and are sent to the county canvassing board. WAC 434-324-105 is repealed.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. Does not affect small businesses.

Section 201, chapter 403, Laws of 1995, does not apply to this rule adoption. It only affects governmental agencies.

Hearing Location: 1007 South Washington, 2nd Floor, Olympia, WA 98501, on March 30, 1999, at 2:00 p.m.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Sheryl Moss by March 23, 1999, (360) 664-3653.

Submit Written Comments to: Sheryl Moss, P.O. Box 40232, Olympia, WA 98504, fax (360) 664-3657, by March 29, 1999.

Date of Intended Adoption: April 5, 1999.

February 12, 1999

Donald F. Whiting

Assistant Secretary of State


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 97-21-045, filed 10/13/97, effective 11/13/97)

WAC 434-261-005

(1) "Manual inspection" is the process of inspecting each voter response position on each voted ballot upon breaking the seals and opening the ballot containers from the precincts or, in the case of precinct counting systems, prior to the certification of the election;

(2) "Duplicating ballots" is the process of copying valid votes from ballots that may not be properly counted by the electronic voting equipment to blank ballots of the same type and style, or as directed by the canvassing board;

(3) "Ballot enhancement" is the process of adding or covering marks on ((a)) an optical scan ballot to ensure that the electronic voting equipment will tally the votes on the ballot in the manner intended by the voter, or as directed by the canvassing board.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 29.04.080, 29.04.210, 29.36.150 and 29.79.200.  97-21-045, 434-261-005, filed 10/13/97, effective 11/13/97.]

AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 97-21-045, filed 10/13/97, effective 11/13/97)

WAC 434-261-080
Ballot enhancement--Optical scan systems.

Ballots shall only be enhanced when such enhancement will not permanently obscure the original marks of the voters.  Ballots shall be enhanced by teams of two or more people working together.  When enhancing ballots, the county shall take the following steps to create and maintain an audit trail of the actions taken with respect to those enhanced ballots:

(1) Each ballot to be enhanced must be assigned a unique control number, with such number being marked on the face of the enhanced ballot;

(2) A log shall be kept of the ballots enhanced and shall include at least the following information:

(a) The control number of each ballot enhanced;

(b) The initials of at least two people who participated in enhancing each ballot; and

(c) The total number of ballots enhanced;

(3) Enhanced ballots and ballots to be enhanced shall be sealed into secure storage at all times, except when said ballots are in the process of being enhanced, are being tabulated, or are being inspected by the canvassing board.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 29.04.080, 29.04.210, 29.36.150 and 29.79.200.  97-21-045, 434-261-080, filed 10/13/97, effective 11/13/97.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 97-21-045, filed 10/13/97, effective 11/13/97)

WAC 434-240-205
Replacement absentee ballots.

The county auditor may issue replacement absentee ballots to a voter who both:

(1) Requested an absentee ballot prior to election day; and

(2) Did not receive the absentee ballot or whose absentee ballot was damaged, lost, or destroyed.

A voter may request an absentee replacement ballot in person, by mail, by telephone, or by other electronic transmission for himself or herself and for any member of his or her immediate family.  The request must be received by the auditor prior to 8:00 p.m. on election day.

The county auditor shall maintain a record of each replacement ballot issued, including the date of the request.  Replacement absentee ballots or the original absentee ballot, whichever is received first, shall ((be counted in the final tabulation of ballots, and shall only)) be tabulated if the ((original ballot is not received by the county auditor and the replacement)) ballot meets all requirements for tabulation ((necessary for the tabulation of regular absentee ballots)). If the auditor receives additional ballot(s) from a voter, the additional ballot(s) shall not be counted and shall be forwarded to the county canvassing board.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 29.04.080, 29.04.210, 29.36.150 and 29.79.200.  97-21-045, 434-240-205, filed 10/13/97, effective 11/13/97.]


     The following section of the Washington Administrative Code is repealed:
WAC 434-324-105Notification of cancellation.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office