Legislation outlawing fake ballot drop boxes, as opposed to this official Snohomish County elections box, is awaiting Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature. The state Senator who wrote the bill called it “our little vaccination bill for election integrity.” (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Legislation outlawing fake ballot drop boxes, as opposed to this official Snohomish County elections box, is awaiting Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature. The state Senator who wrote the bill called it “our little vaccination bill for election integrity.” (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Lawmakers move to outlaw fake ballot collection containers

A bill heading to the governor would fine and possibly jail those who set up fraudulent drop boxes.

OLYMPIA — It could soon be a crime to set up a fake ballot drop box in Washington.

A bill making it a gross misdemeanor to misrepresent “an unofficial ballot collection site or device as an official ballot drop box” set up by a county auditor cleared the state House on Monday. A conviction can result in a maximum fine of $5,000 and 364 days in jail, or both.

Senate Bill 5015, approved by the Senate last month, passed the House on a 92-5 vote. It now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for signing.

Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, wrote the legislation to prevent unsanctioned ballot collection containers from popping up on street corners, as occurred in some California communities last year.

In October, the California Republican Party set up unauthorized drop boxes, noting that that state’s laws didn’t bar an organization from collecting ballots and delivering them to election offices. It later removed the containers.

“I call this our little 2021 vaccination bill for election integrity,” Hunt said when the Senate passed the measure.

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