Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Lawmakers are back at the state Capitol this week for “Committee Assembly” to discuss emerging issues and plan for the next legislative session. Although our biggest task in 2020 will be approving the supplemental operating, transportation and capital budgets, several other emerging issues need to be addressed.
In June, the Secretary of State's office rolled out an ambitious new voter registration system: VoteWA. The system provides a unified platform and database for all of Washington's 39 counties. It also supports another important change: For the first time in our state's history, qualified residents can now register and vote on the same day. Previously, Washington voters were required to register online or via mail 29 days before Election Day. Same-day voter registration makes it easier for people to vote.
That's good. We want more people to vote.
However, there are some “bad actors” out there that could ruin it for the rest of us. While it's laudable we've improved access—it's time to improve security. We need to deal with individuals looking to game the system. Because of the significant impact of this type of fraud, offenders should be dealt with swiftly and penalized heavily.
That's why I'm drafting a proposal that would create stiffer penalties for incidents of voter fraud in our election process. The legislation targets individuals and organizations that knowingly attempt to register ineligible people and dissuades them from attempting to take advantage of our very accessible system. Stay tuned—I'll send more information on this developing legislation in the weeks to come.
The 2020 Census
The U.S. Constitution mandates a census every 10 years. The federal government manages most of the data collection—with some help and coordination from individual states.
As you may already be aware, a lot depends on the results. The census creates a “snapshot” of the United States that determines how state and congressional districts are drawn, where businesses ship their products, and even how state and federal dollars are distributed.
With so much at stake, it needs to be accurate.
Here's my concern: There is a great temptation for some partisan groups to turn the 2020 Census into an opportunity to promote their own agenda. They would like to play with the numbers by removing the citizenship question and even refusing to ask if someone is male or female.
The census should be conducted as fairly, scientifically and accurately as possible. If circumstances require it, I'll draft legislation and do all I can to ensure that the process remains non-political.
If you'd like to sit down with me and share your ideas for how to make our district and state a better place to live, I'm happy to meet with you. Feel free to contact my office so we can talk.
It's an honor to serve you.