Over 1,500 Washingtonians signed in “Pro” to the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee’s February 8th hearing on HB 1156, sponsored by Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley. On February 11th, the Committee cast a bipartisan, 5-2 vote in favor of the bill, sending it on to the House Appropriations Committee.
HB 1156 would, in part, permit localities to adopt ranked-choice voting (RCV) as an upgrade to their currently mandated top-two system. The cities of Bellingham, Olympia, Gold Bar, Spokane, and Seattle have each declared support for HB 1156, as has the Clallam County Charter Review Commission.
The bill has bipartisan support from 26 co-sponsors and the backing of over two dozen community-focused organizations across Washington.
Testimony in favor of the bill was heard from a bipartisan group of voters, election administrators, elected officials, and community leaders.
Republican Amilia Powers-Gardner, County Auditor for Utah County, Utah, testified that in November of 2019 she had administered RCV elections for two cities in Utah County. Utah already has a local options bill authorizing cities to adopt RCV. Powers-Gardner testified that both elections were easy to administer and easy for the voters to participate in. What is more, the fact that all the other elections on the ballot were conventional winner-take-all elections was not a problem either for the voters or for her as an administrator. In a survey conducted by her office, she said, 82% of voters in those elections preferred the greater choice and flexibility that RCV gave them.
Spokane City Council Member Kate Burke testified on behalf of the City of Spokane, saying “House Bill 1156 empowers local governments in our state to conduct elections in the way that works best for us.”
Though nearly all public testimony at the bill’s February 8th hearing focused on RCV’s ability to help women and communities of color elect more candidates of choice, Representative Jim Walsh (R - Aberdeen) contended that unrepresented people of all stripes could stand to benefit from improving our elections, including conservatives in blue districts.
The bill must pass the House Appropriations Committee by February 22nd. RCV is currently used in 19 cities, is used for some statewide elections in 10 states, and has been adopted in a dozen other cities. One of the cities now using RCV is New York City where Andrew Yang is currently the leading contender for mayor. In 2020 Yang included a strong RCV plank in his campaign for the presidency.
For those who wish to support the passage of HB 1156 there are several options – and you can choose one or all of them!
- Go to the bill’s comment page and register your support. The first thing you do is enter your address to verify your Legislative District. It is recommended that you send your comment to all three legislators. Assuming the bill passes the House, it will make its way next to the Senate, so our Senators need to hear from us, too. The whole process takes two minutes.
- In the 40th and 42nd Legislative Districts, we are well represented on this issue. All four of our state representatives are co-sponsors of HB 1156. When you go to the comment page, thank Representatives Ramel and Lekanoff (40th District) or Shewmake and Rule (42nd District) for their leadership on behalf of all voters.
- You can also urge them to work with their colleagues in the House and Senate in support of the bill.
- You can especially thank Representative Lekanoff for her role as Co-Chair of the State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.
- Representative Lekanoff is the only one of our four representatives who serves on the House Appropriations Committee. You can urge her to use her influence with the other members of that key committee to pass the bill out.
In fact, if you just want to copy and paste something into the comment page, how about this if you are registered in the 40th District?
Thanks to Representatives Lekanoff and Ramel for co-sponsoring HB 1156 and to Representative Lekanoff for her role as Co-Chair of the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee in passing the bill out.
I urge all the 40th District legislators (House and Senate) to champion the bill with your colleagues in both houses.
Or this if you live in the 42nd District?
Thanks to Representatives Shewmake and Rule for co-sponsoring HB 1156.
I urge all the 42nd District legislators (House and Senate) to champion the bill with your colleagues in both houses.
Or adapt these!
Or write your own!