Rep. Vicki Kraft introduces legislation to improve election integrity, security, and accountability

Rep. Vicki Kraft says the very freedom of individuals is at stake when elections are compromised. That's why she has introduced legislation in the state House of Representatives to improve election integrity, security, and accountability.

“Elections are a critical component of our freedom in Washington state and America. Our very liberty depends on free and fair elections. Unfortunately, election integrity can't be left to a simple honor system any longer. We must have the fullest security and accountability in our election systems to ensure every vote cast in our state is actually legal, legitimate and properly counted,” said Kraft, R-Vancouver.

Kraft says House Bill 2115 would create strong checks and balances in the state's election process by including oversight by a State Election Audit Board, the State Auditor, and most importantly, the people. A forensic audit of the general election would be required each year, conducted by a third-party audit vendor, including a manual hand count of ballots, a thorough review of voting systems, a reconciliation of the ballot totals, voter registration logs, and chain of custody. It would require the county auditor to capture a forensic image of all voting systems used in the election and retain all digital and hardcopy election data for at least 22 months after the election. It would also require live video recording of when the canvassing board opens a sealed container of counted ballots. It would also repeal House Bill 1068, passed during the 2021 session, which exempted election audit information retroactively, covering the November 2020 election and prior, from public inspection.

“Each of these requirements would work to ensure transparency in our election system so that we can truly verify that every single ballot is legitimate and properly counted – or not, if it shouldn't be counted,” noted Kraft.

The legislation would require all ballots to contain an official watermark, and those that do not have the watermark would be rejected. It would also prohibit certification of election until all required election audits are complete.

“It's important that we get every step right before an election is certified in the state of Washington,” said Kraft. “Only then can we restore the people's trust in their government.”

Kraft's measure also sets out new roles and responsibilities. It would require the State Auditor to take a more active role and audit the election process to make sure it is working as intended in the constitution and law. The State Audit Board would be created to incorporate people from across the state to be actively involved in oversight of the general election process and outcome. All election officials, employees and volunteers would be required to sign an oath affirming they would help conduct the election honestly, truthfully and with good faith effort. Anyone who knowingly and intentionally uses their election position to commit election fraud would be charged with a Class C felony.

“Those who speak up to ensure truth, accuracy and integrity in our election process for all legitimate voters should not be threatened and are not the criminals. We need to enact the highest accountability measures for our election system to be sure every legal vote cast by a Washington voter is properly counted,” added Kraft. “Those who compromise the integrity of our elections must be held fully accountable.”

The 17th District lawmaker noted that one of the most important roles of elected representatives of the people is to safeguard the election process and make sure every valid voter's ballot is securely counted.

“That is our duty and not only protects our voters, it preserves our precious freedom,” said Kraft. “As Patrick Henry once stated, 'The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.'”

The measure has been referred to the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov