OLYMPIA – A bill which will help the state’s military and overseas voters participate in primary and general elections was signed into law Monday afternoon by Gov. Gregoire.
Senate Bill 5171, sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, will push the primary election back two weeks and will direct candidates running for office to file three weeks earlier. Overseas and military ballots will be mailed two weeks earlier for the general election and four weeks earlier for the primary.
“Many of our service men and women have little or no access to the tools necessary to fill out or mail an absentee ballot,” said Sen. Hobbs, a veteran of the conflicts in Iraq and Kosovo. “The hope is that giving them more time will increase the number of service members who are able to vote.”
The bill will also allow military and overseas voters to participate through electronic means such as fax and e-mail. These voters could vote via fax prior to this legislation, but not without including a secrecy waiver. SB 5171 removes that rule.
The bill was requested by the Secretary of State’s office and received overwhelming bipartisan support throughout the process.