The odds are improving that the next time Washington votes for a president, military and other overseas voters will be able to cast their ballots by e-mail.
Elections officials also think prospects have improved for another change they want: eliminating the state’s few remaining polling sites in Pierce County.
Both changes have been approved in past years by the state House, then bottled up in the Senate. But some of the senators who blocked them are now gone.
There remains concern in the Senate about the state forcing Pierce County into all-mail voting. On the question of whether Washington residents outside the country should be able to vote by e-mail, though, supporters Secretary of State Sam Reed and Rep. Chris Hurst don’t see opposition ahead.
Their proposal targeting some 45,000 overseas voters became the first bill filed this year, House Bill 1000, and Wednesday became one of the first to take a step forward when the House State Government Committee approved it unanimously.
Military and other overseas voters can request and obtain ballots via e-mail, but must send them back by traditional mail.
Hurst’s proposal last year for voters overseas to send their ballots electronically passed the House 96-0. But Sen. Eric Oemig blocked it from a vote, heeding the complaints of election-security advocates worried e-mail voting would leave elections vulnerable to hackers.
Seattle-based Voter Action and national group VerifiedVoting.org wrote in a letter to lawmakers Wednesday, “It will be a long time before e-mail or any other form of Internet voting is reliable enough for America’s voters.”