WSR 99-09-072

PROPOSED RULES

PUBLIC DISCLOSURE COMMISSION


[ Filed April 19, 1999, 2:56 p.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 99-06-062.

Title of Rule: WAC 390-17-030 Sample ballots.

Purpose: Defines the term "sample ballots" for purposes of RCW 42.17.640 (14)(a).

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 42.17.370(1).

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 42.17.640(14).

Summary: The proposed amendment deletes the existing definition of sample ballots and substitutes language that is consistent with the approach taken by the Federal Election Commission for federal elections.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: The proposed amendment implements a definition of sample ballots that is more consistent with the intent of Initiative 134 and more workable for political parties and other persons who produce candidate slate cards for distribution to voters.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting and Implementation: Vicki Rippie, Public Disclosure Commission, 711 Capitol Way, Room 403, Olympia, (360) 586-4838; and Enforcement: Susan Harris, Public Disclosure Commission, 711 Capitol Way, Room 403, Olympia, (360) 753-1981.

Name of Proponent: Public Disclosure Commission, governmental.

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

Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: The proposed amendment strikes the current language of WAC 390-17-030 and substitutes language that conforms with the Public Disclosure Commission Interpretation 98-01 regarding slate cards and other candidate listings. Under that interpretation, the term "sample ballots" includes slate cards and other candidate listings, so long as the slate cards and listings satisfy certain criteria. Those criteria are consistent with the ones used by the Federal Election Commission.

RCW 42.17.640 (14)(a) says that expenditures and contributions earmarked for sample ballots are exempt from the contribution limits of Initiative 134. The commission has interpreted this statute to mean that anyone who makes expenditures for sample ballots is not making a contribution to the candidates listed on the sample ballot and that political parties may use their exempt funds account (their state soft money account) to pay for sample ballots.

Proposal Changes the Following Existing Rules: The proposed amendment gives a broader meaning to the term "sample ballots" used in RCW 42.17.640 (14)(a) and, thus, allows political parties and other sponsors of slate cards that meet certain criteria to tell the general public which candidates they support without those slate card expenditures constituting a contribution to the candidates listed. The exemption is not intended as a device for circumventing the contribution limits and full reporting requirements by allowing any significant degree of campaigning on behalf of candidates.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. The proposed amendment does not have an economic impact on small businesses.

Section 201, chapter 403, Laws of 1995, does not apply to this rule adoption. The Public Disclosure Commission is not specified in section 201, chapter 403, Laws of 1995, as being subject to this section nor has it been brought under the section as otherwise provided in the chapter law.

Hearing Location: Senate Hearing Room #2, John A. Cherberg Building, First Floor, 304 15th Avenue, Capitol Campus, Olympia, WA, on May 25, 1999, at 9:00 a.m.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Jennifer Alloway, 753-1111.

Submit Written Comments to: Vicki Rippie, Public Disclosure Commission, P.O. Box 40908, Olympia, WA 98504-0908, fax (360) 753-1112 by May 12, 1999.

Date of Intended Adoption: May 25, 1999.

April 16, 1999

Vicki Rippie

Assistant Director

OTS-3017.2


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 96-05-001, filed 2/7/96, effective 3/9/96)

WAC 390-17-030
Sample ballots and slate cards.

(1) ((Sample ballot, as that term is used in RCW 42.17.640 (14)(a), means a printed list that includes a majority of all of the partisan offices on the ballot and that also may include ballot measures and nonpartisan races to be voted on at a particular primary, general or special election; all without promotion of or political advertising for specifically named individual candidates.

(2) A sample ballot shall not indicate the sponsor's preference for any specific candidate or candidates listed on the ballot.

(3) A sample ballot may contain a list of candidates, limited to the identification of the candidates (pictures may be used), the office or position currently held, the elective office sought and the party affiliation, as long as the same category of information is given for all candidates listed.  The list shall not include additional biographical data on candidates, their positions on political issues or statements on party philosophy.

(4) A sample ballot which meets the above criteria is not considered a contribution to any of the candidates listed in the ballot.)) Intent. The commission finds that, under certain conditions, expenditures for slate cards and other candidate listings fall within the parameters of RCW 42.17.640 (14)(a) and are, therefore, exempt from contribution limits and eligible for payment with a bona fide political party's exempt funds. Slate cards remain reportable under chapter 42.17 RCW and subject to the political advertising provisions of the law.

The purpose of this exemption from the contribution limits is to allow political parties and other sponsors to tell the general public which candidates they support. The exemption is not intended as a device to circumvent the contribution limits and full reporting requirements by undertaking any degree of significant campaigning on behalf of candidates.

(2) For purposes of RCW 42.17.640 (14)(a), "sample ballots" means slate cards, or other candidate listings, that satisfy the qualifying criteria specified in subsection (10) of this section.

(3) Sample ballots constitute political advertising for a slate or list of candidates and must be properly identified and otherwise in compliance with the political advertising provisions, RCW 42.17.505 through 42.17.550.

(4)(a) A bona fide political party may use contributions it receives pursuant to RCW 42.17.640(14) to design, print and distribute sample ballots.

(b) Expenditures for sample ballots do not count against a bona fide political party's contribution limit to the candidates listed on the sample ballot. Further, when reporting sample ballot expenditures, a bona fide political party is not required to attribute a portion of the expenditure to each of the candidates listed on the sample ballot, but the names of the candidates must be reported along with the other information required by chapter 42.17 RCW and chapter 390-17 WAC.

(5) Any person, as defined by RCW 42.17.020, who makes an expenditure for sample ballots has made an expenditure that does not count against that person's contribution limit to the candidates listed.

(6) An in-state political committee, when disclosing expenditures for sample ballots as part of its C-4 report, is not required to attribute a portion of the expenditure to the candidates listed on the sample ballot, but the names of the candidates and their respective party affiliations must be reported along with other information required by chapter 42.17 RCW and chapter 390-17 WAC.

(7) An out-of-state or federal committee, when disclosing expenditures for sample ballots on a C-5 report, is not required to allocate a portion of the expenditure to the candidates listed on the sample ballot, but must report that an expenditure for sample ballots was made, the name and address of the person to whom the expenditure was made, the full amount of the expenditure, and the name, office sought and party affiliation of each candidate listed on the sample ballot. The report is due within ten days of the date the sample ballot is received by recipients.

(8) If a lobbyist or lobbyist employer makes expenditures for sample ballots, those expenditures are required to be reported in detail on the lobbyist's monthly L-2 report. Itemization of these expenditures must include the names and respective party affiliations of the candidates listed on the sample ballot, but no portion of the expenditure need be allocated to individual candidates listed on the sample ballot.

(9) The candidates listed on a sample ballot are not required to report any portion of the expenditure as an in-kind contribution to their campaigns.

(10) Qualifying criteria for sample ballots, slate cards and other candidate listings. In order not to count against a person's contribution limit to the candidates listed on a sample ballot and, in the case of a bona fide political party, in order to be eligible for payment with contributions received pursuant to RCW 42.17.640(14), a sample ballot must satisfy all of the criteria in (a) through (d) of this subsection.

(a) The sample ballot must list the names of at least three candidates for election to public office in Washington state. That is, identify any combination of three or more candidates, whether the candidates are seeking federal, state or local office in Washington.

(b) The sample ballot must not be distributed through public political advertising; for example, through broadcast media, newspapers, magazines, billboards or the like. The sample ballot may be distributed through direct mail, electronic mail, Web sites, electronic bulletin boards, electronic billboards or personal delivery by volunteers.

(c) The content of a sample ballot is limited to:

The identification of each candidate (pictures may be used);

The office or position currently held;

The office sought;

Party affiliation; and

Information about voting hours and locations.

Therefore, the sample ballot must exclude any additional biographical data on candidates and their positions on issues as well as statements about the sponsor's philosophy, goals or accomplishments. The list must also exclude any statements, check marks or other indications showing support of or opposition to ballot propositions.

(d) The sample ballot is a stand-alone political advertisement. It must not be a portion of a more comprehensive message or combined in the same mailing or packet with any other information, including get-out-the-vote material, candidate brochures, or statements about the sponsor's philosophy, goals or accomplishments. On Web sites, electronic bulletin boards or electronic billboards, the sample ballot must be separate from other documents or information available at the site.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 42.17.370(1).  96-05-001, 390-17-030, filed 2/7/96, effective 3/9/96.  Statutory Authority: RCW 42.17.370.  93-16-064, 390-17-030, filed 7/30/93, effective 8/30/93.]

Washington State Code Reviser's Office