Citing concerns about voter disenfranchisement, Washington state elections officials are asking for detailed information about each ballot collected by political parties and campaign workers.
The request stems from reports that some staffers paid by the King County Republican Party are offering to collect ballots and deliver them to official county drop-off centers. The party has also set up nine “GOP Victory Vans” where voters can drop off ballots.
Democrats have done similar, although less organized, efforts in the past. Benton Strong, a party spokesman, said they are not doing it this year.
The practice is legal but concerning to officials, who have recommended that voters submit ballots themselves.
In a letter sent Tuesday morning, state elections director Katie Blinn requested that by 5 p.m. Wednesday parties submit the names and addresses of all voters whose ballots were collected, the date and location of the collection, the name of who received it and when and where the ballot was delivered to an official drop box.
The request is not legally binding, but would “reflect much better on the parties if they do than if they refuse to,” Blinn said in an interview.
Democrats, who have been trying to make hay of the Victory Vans, applauded the move. Republicans dismissed it as unimportant.
“My focus today is on getting out the vote. We have an election to win,” said Randy Pepple, the campaign manager for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. “This is just tactics by the Democratic Party to waste my time to distract from the fact their candidate’s going to lose.”
McKenna is in a tight, nationally-watched race with Democrat Jay Inslee.
On Monday, state Sen. Ed Murray — a Democrat — said he will introduce legislation next year to prohibit ballot collection by party and campaign workers.