An unnecessary distraction

From the Solution Looking for a Problem Department, Olympia Bureau, comes this:

A bill that would allow voter registration up to 5 p.m. on Election Day. Apparently, requiring folks to register at least eight days before ballots are due is too onerous a hurdle. Who knew?

The opening section of HB 2204 (and its companion, SB 6127) attempts to explain its need, noting that in the 2008 presidential election, states with election-day registration had an average voter turnout of 69 percent, compared with 62 percent for other states.

What it fails to mention is that in Washington, where mail voting has made it marvelously easy to exercise one’s franchise, the 2008 turnout was 84.61 percent.

So much for that premise.

Rather than solving a problem, adopting Election-Day registration in Washington would actually introduce the potential for errors. This in a state that went through an awkward and ugly series of recounts and court battles after the 2004 race for governor ended in a virtual tie.

Millions were spent in the wake of Gregoire vs. Rossi to purge the state’s rolls of felons who had lost their voter eligibility, people who had died or who were registered in more than one county. A statewide database was created, preventing duplicate registrations and ensuring, as much as is humanly possible, that all the names on the voter rolls belong to eligible, registered voters. One would think — as do Secretary of State Sam Reed and the state’s county auditors — that reasonable registration deadlines, like the generous ones currently in place, enhance the voter rolls’ accuracy.

Allowing registration on Election Day, when auditor’s offices already are scrambling to help voters who lost or didn’t receive a ballot, creates the potential for overcrowded customer-service counters — a recipe for confusion and mistakes in what is, after all, an imperfect, human process.

Besides making it easier than any other state to vote (excepting Oregon, which also has all-mail voting), Washington gives folks an array of options for getting registered. You can even do so online, by printing out and mailing in a form. Plus, now you can register in person at your county auditor’s office up to eight days before the election — it used to be 15 days.

This appears to be part of a national effort by Democrats to get more college students voting. That’s a laudable goal, to be sure, but so is an orderly, error-free election process. Both can be maximized by organizing registration drives weeks before the election, on college campuses and elsewhere.

That would make better use of the energy being spent promoting a misguided bill.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Thursday, June 8

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Phlebotomist Heather Evans preps JaNeen Aagaard a donation at Bloodworks NW Friday afternoon in Everett at July 3o, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Editorial: Get back in (or start) your habit of giving blood

The pandemic’s effects and fewer younger donors too often leave blood supplies dangerously low.

Comment: After LIV-PGA merger, Saudis are just getting started

The money from their wealth fund may prove irresistible to other sports organizations in the U.S.

Comment: Feuding Russian forces point to problems for Putin

Infighting among Russia units, mercenaries and irregulars raises doubts amid Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Comment: We should worry more about AI’s creators than AI itself

Their warnings of an ‘extinction threat’ are part marketing tool and part effort to avoid scrutiny.

Comment: Expect battles as Oklahoma lowers church-state wall

State funding of a Catholic school may require the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the establishment clause.

Lummi Tribal members Ellie Kinley, left, and Raynell Morris, president and vice president of the non-profit Sacred Lands Conservancy known as Sacred Sea, lead a prayer for the repatriation of southern resident orca Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut — who has lived and performed at the Miami Seaquarium for over 50 years — to her home waters of the Salish Sea at a gathering Sunday, March 20, 2022, at the sacred site of Cherry Point in Whatcom County, Wash.

The Bellingham Herald
Editorial: What it will require to bring Tokitae home

Bringing home the last captive orca requires expanded efforts to restore the killer whales’ habitat.

A map of the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Set your muscle memory for work zone speed cameras

Starting next summer, not slowing down in highway work zones can result in a $500 fine.

File - A teenager holds her phone as she sits for a portrait near her home in Illinois, on Friday, March 24, 2023. The U.S. Surgeon General is warning there is not enough evidence to show that social media is safe for young people — and is calling on tech companies, parents and caregivers to take "immediate action to protect kids now." (AP Photo Erin Hooley, File)
Editorial: Warning label on social media not enough for kids

The U.S. surgeon general has outlined tasks for parents, officials and social media companies.

Most Read