Ballot measure seeks to clear up voter residency issue

SJR 8205: Harmonizes state law with federal court rulings on voting

October 10, 2011 

State voters get a chance to clean up the state constitution Nov. 8 by weighing in on Senate Joint Resolution 8205.

The measure harmonizes the constitution with federal court rulings on how long a person must reside in the state before casting ballots in an election. The law and current practice is a 30-day limit, the result of rulings by the U.S. and state supreme courts, which rendered the state’s one-year residency requirement unconstitutional.

Republican Sen. Mike Carrell of Lakewood sponsored the bill and said he’d worked on the issue for five years.

This year, it slid rather easily through the Senate and House and onto the ballot. No one has signed up to write a statement against it for the state voter guide.

“It’s not very often you remove something from the law,’’ Carrell said, calling the measure to remove Article VI, Section 1A, from the constitution “something that we have ignored.”

The provision, added to the constitution in 1966, dictates that voters can vote for president and vice president if they have lived in Washington for 60 days or longer before Election Day, but it has longer requirements for state and local issues.

State practices changed some time ago to conform to the court rulings. “We’ll simply make clear that what we are doing is going to be constitutional going forward,” said David Ammons, spokesman for the Office of the Secretary of State.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688

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