Predictable problems in rush for same-day voter registration

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408 N. Mullan Rd., Ste. 106Spokane Valley, WA 99206

Report from Olympia |  July 17, 2019


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you had a great Independence Day and are enjoying this summer with your friends and family.

The past few weeks have been busy ones for me. In addition to the normal summer activities of celebrating freedom, going on vacation, and attending family functions, work continues on representing our community on legislative committees, task forces and other meetings, as well as discussing issues important to our district with members of the press. You can read more about these activities in this Report from Olympia.

Among the issues is the all-too-predictable series of problems being experienced by our state and county elections officials in implementing a relatively new law aimed at making it easier to vote.

If you have any questions about the new elections system, or anything else in this newsletter, please don’t hesitate to call, write or email my office. I am here to be your voice, and am happy to hear from you.

Thank you for the honor and privilege of representing you in the Washington State Senate.


Senator Mike Padden

In The News:

Lawmakers could have prevented voter-registration drama

Seattle Times Editorial | July 1, 2019


When Washington state legislators took up Election Day voter registration last year, Secretary of State Kim Wyman implored them to reconsider the timeline.

That was her word — implore — in a Feb. 7, 2018 public hearing during which she told lawmakers she supported the idea of same-day registration but had concerns about the June 30 implementation date.

“The problem is that it would force the counties to implement this bill before the technology is in place to make it work,” the state’s chief elections officer explained. Lawmakers, as evidenced by floor debate, chose to ignore her.

And here we are.

As The Seattle Times has reported, elections officials have rushed to develop, test and activate elections software that will enable Election Day registration in time for the Aug. 6 primary. In King County, with 337 races and a near-record number of candidates running, officials last Friday said they continued to wrestle with a system that was cutting off foreign addresses and misidentifying some precincts — a problem which, if uncorrected, could result in voters’ receiving improper ballots in the mail.

… it is worth noting: Much of this drama and uncertainty might have been avoided if lawmakers had only listened to Wyman’s warning.

To read the full article, click here.

2018 debate predicted today's chaos in rush to adopt same-day registration


Click here to view the floor debate over same-day voter registration.

Last year the majority side in the Legislature pushed through a bill to radically reform Washington’s election system by, among other things, creating same-day voter registration.

During the debate, I offered an amendment that dealt with the cost of adding the ability to register voters once the election period has begun. The “fiscal note” accompanying the bill estimated a total expense to local government of $1,886,494 – which represents an unfunded mandate on counties that my amendment attempted to address. Unfortunately, the Democrats said no.

At the time, my Republican colleagues and I also pointed out that counties questioned if they would be able to comply in time. Secretary of State Kim Wyman, too, implored the majority to slow down.

My colleague Sen. Hans Zeiger of Puyallup proposed an amendment to delay implementation of the change and enable an appropriate period of time to smooth the transition. Democrats rejected that as well, saying they wanted to “hold their feet to the fire.” I warned in that debate that while it was all well and good to hold the auditors’ feet to the fire, what if things blew up? They would be causing chaos and confusion in our election process. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be the case.

In recent days King, Thurston and Spokane counties have all indicated that they have a lack of faith in this new system and the ability to meet the current deadlines. The extended period when the registration system was not functioning only heightened that lack of confidence.

Now our auditors are faced with addressing a crisis that was thrust upon them. It could have all been avoided had the Legislature’s majority simply listened to the local officials who actually have to do the work.

Sentencing guidelines under review


Click here to watch the full work session on sentencing reform.

On Tuesday, I attended a work session conducted by the House Public Safety Committee, concerning a report from the Sentencing Guidelines Commission on proposals to amend the Sentencing Reform Act.

The Washington Sentencing Guidelines Commission promotes accountability and equity in sentencing, and in June it adopted a report to the state Legislature that urges lawmakers to consider options for changing the sentencing grid, with the aim of simplifying sentencing and increasing judicial discretion.

Yesterday’s meeting focused on two general proposals. The first would keep the existing sentencing grid, but would expand the ranges to allow judges more discretion within those ranges. The second proposal would be a complete redesign, with broader felony ranges, and within those, more targeted “advisory” ranges that judges could use, but could also ignore. The idea is to give judges the ability to do more individualized sentences.

As a former judge myself, I understand the desire for more judicial discretion, but it is important to remember that – like cases – judges are not cookie-cutter either, and they come to each case with their own judicial philosophies, backgrounds and temperaments. We do not want too great of a disparity in sentences among those convicted of similar offenses and with similar criminal histories.

Another concern is that there are too many in the Legislature and elsewhere who are focused solely on reducing incarceration, without enough focus on public safety. As this review process moves forward, we will continue to advocate for putting public safety first.


VIDEO: Updating the Spokane Valley City Council on Barker Road Project

Barker RD

Click the image above to watch my full update to the Council.

Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to update the Spokane Valley City Council on the status of the public safety and economic-development benefits of the Barker-to-Harvard Project funding that was approved in this year’s transportation budget.

I also discussed with the council the issue of possible cost overruns to the project, and how they would impact the cites of Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. I have been working with Senate transportation committee staff and others to make sure that no unfair burden is placed on either community.


In the News:

Majority passed 51 bills to take more of your money

Democrats pushed major tax hikes past a resistant GOP

By Jerry Cornfield, Everett Herald | July 5, 2019


State lawmakers outdid themselves this year in the assortment of ways they chose to extract more bucks from you, your neighbor, and even your friends in Oregon.

They passed and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed 51 bills containing a means of generating money to help pay for what the state does now and will try to do in the near future for its 7.5 million residents.

In sheer numbers, the Class of 2019 outproduced their predecessors in this arena.

There were 17 tax and fee bills enacted in 2018 and 32 in 2017, according to statistics compiled by the Office of Financial Management.

In the four years before that, the high-water mark was 30. It occurred in 2015 when, like in 2017 and 2019, a new two-year budget got written. There tends to be more tax and fee changes in such years.

Some of this year’s changes are starting to take effect.

…During the session, Democrats used their majorities in the House and Senate to muscle past resistant Republicans in order to pass a gamut of measures.

Residents of Montana, Oregon and other states without a sales tax are no longer exempt from paying it in Washington. Oil companies will be paying a higher tax on the amount of petroleum they move. And if you vape, prepare to have products taxed by the milliliter starting this October.

This January, the tax rate paid by an estimated 82,000 professional service businesses will rise a little. It will be going up a lot more for a handful of Big Banks.

Click here to read the full article.


2019 Government Guide for the 4th LD

2019 Government Guide

Together we can create a better state for our children and future generations, but it takes your active participation with your government. To help facilitate that participation, I’ve created this government guide to provide you with easier access to important contact information you may need. In this guide, you’ll find names, addresses, phone numbers, websites, and e-mail addresses for city, county, state and federal government. You will also find contact information for local agencies and resources, as well as some general information about our district.

In addition to downloading a copy online, there are a limited number of hard copies of the Government Guide available at our district office. Please stop by the office at 408 N. Mullan Rd, Ste 106, or give my legislative assistant Janet a call at (509) 921-2460 and she will send one by mail. 

Download the 2019 Government Guide here!