Prefiled bill could adjust local elections

Local cities could switch up future elections if a bill prefiled ahead of the legislative session moves forward.

Representative Darya Farivar prefiled House Bill 1882, or the “Washington cities’ and towns’ freedom to choose even-numbered elections act”, on Tuesday that would give cities and towns the freedom to switch their general elections to even-numbered years in order to take advantage of “higher and more diverse voter turnout”.

According to the bill language, Washington state voter turnout in even-numbered years is “demonstrably higher and more diverse” than voter turnout in odd-numbered years. 

It proposes that holding elections in even-numbered years would bring greater voter participation, and if passed would allow for cities to move their elections to coincide with county or statewide races if they so choose.

This would be the first time the option would be available “in more than half a century” according to Farivar.

The change would need to be made at the local level by ordinance, voter approval, or a charter amendment following multiple public hearings.

If the change were made, elected officials would reduce their current terms by a year to align with the new election process.

The language indicates that not all terms would need to be impacted for the change to take place, and could involve a mix of offices. Any change would need to be adopted by January 15th of an odd-numbered year for it to be adjusted that year.

The Legislature will convene for a Regular Session on January 8, 2024, and adjourn on March 7, 2024.