Regional News

Supreme Court’s I-940 decision allows ballot printing to proceed

Aug 28, 2018

In the wake of last week’s ruling on Initiative 1639, the Washington Supreme Court has issued another ruling that clears the way for ballots and voters’ pamphlets to be printed and delivered in time for November’s General Election.

This morning, the Court ruled that Initiative 940, an initiative to the Legislature which lawmakers passed and immediately amended during the 2018 session, must appear on the ballot in its original form. This version was first submitted to the Office of the Secretary of State on May 23, 2017, and can be read in full on the Secretary of State’s website.

I-940 would require all Washington state law enforcement officers to receive violence de-escalation and mental health training, as well as implement new rules on the use of deadly force by police. Lawmakers passed the measure March 8, but minutes before, first passed House Bill 3003, which preemptively amended the initiative prior to its adoption. The uncommon method of the legislative action prompted a lawsuit challenging the measure’s validity.

In the decision, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud wrote that “the legislature has impermissibly circumvented the balance of power between the legislature and the people that is built into the constitution. The legislature did so by enacting I-940 ‘without change or amendment,’ yet amending it immediately as a practical matter via passage of an almost contemporaneous bill.”

State law requires counties to print and mail ballots to their overseas and military voters in time for those ballots to be returned prior to the General Election. Now that the court has provided guidance in this area, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, says that the possibility of a ballot and voter pamphlet printing delay has been avoided.

Washington’s Office of Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees, and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.

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