DSHS designated to assist voters

Gov. Chris Gregoire issued an executive order Tuesday that designates the Department of Social and Health Services as an agency to help get voter-registration information to voters.

The designation of DSHS is in keeping with a requirement in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to offer registration help at agencies that give public assistance or help people with disabilities.

But it was something of a formality. Former Gov. Gary Locke had designated the agency via a directive, said Antonio Ginatta, policy aide to Gregoire.

"We were always looking for an opportunity to reinforce that and to have state agencies do more to link people to the Secretary of State's voter registration" Web site, Ginatta said.

DSHS spokesman Steve Williams said the agency already has a designated person in the agency to monitor this activity. DSHS will study the order and, "If we need to do more, we'll do more," he said.

In the first five months of the year, about 800 people signed up to vote via DSHS field offices, then gave state employees the registrations to mail in, he said.