The state Legislature created new laws to help ensure the integrity of elections and increase access to the ballot. All were enacted at the request of Secretary of State Steve Hobbs.
One measure allows for online voter registration with the last four digits of a Social Security number instead of a driver’s license or state ID number.
Another makes voter registration automatic for people who have proved their citizenship while applying for an enhanced driver’s license or enhanced state ID card.
Still another bill prohibits political campaigns from using false images, videos or audio without a disclosure that the material has been manipulated.
Online voting registration makes sense in a nation that experienced the shutdown of public and private offices and the long-lasting effects of the pandemic. The last four digits of a Social Security number are typically more guarded than a driver’s license or state ID card, thus Senate Bill 5208 is a good use of technology.
For new citizens, SB 5112 will make voting more convenient once the person applies for an enhanced driver’s license or state ID. The change will likely offer some new citizens the first chance to participate in the democratic process.
The bill to regulate the use of manipulated images and audio, SB 5152, is in response to the use of technology that can make it appear as if someone said or did something they actually did not. “Deepfake” campaign material can trick voters into thinking what they see and hear is actually true. California has put limits on its use in campaigns and other states have considered similar measures.
Campaigns in Washington targeted by deepfakes can now go to court to seek an injunction and sue for damages.
All of these changes are reasonable and welcome, and come at time when trust in our voting system has been challenged. These new measures help safeguard voting just in time for this year’s elections and beyond.