The departures of two key Jay Inslee Cabinet members earlier this month frayed relations between the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled state Senate. But bipartisanship hasn’t totally unraveled, and legislators have stepped toward mending the relationship by advancing a measure that will involve more of the state’s residents in the political process.
House Bill 2682, which Monday passed the House on a 55-42 vote, would automatically register to vote a select group of those who get a drivers license. It expands on the federal “motor voter” law that has been in effect since 1993; that law requires states to provide voter registration cards at motor vehicle offices, among other places.
As for automatic registration, a major problem for this state is that Washington doesn’t check for proof of citizenship in order to get a drivers license.
The legislation, proposed by Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Democratic state Sen. Pramila Jayapal, would automatically register only those who obtain enhanced and commercial licenses, two areas in which the state does conduct a citizenship check.
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To help develop the database, Jayapal proposes utilizing the state health benefits exchange; those signing up for the exchange must provide proof of citizenship. There is an opt-out provision for those who wish not to be registered.
Wyman says the bill finds a “middle ground” between Democrats’ desire for greater ballot access and Republicans’ concerns about ballot security.
The bill awaits Senate action, and it warrants Senate approval. It’s a compromise with provisions that both political parties can and should accept.