Washington state ranked 45th in election integrity

Washington state ranked 45th – tied with New Jersey – according to a new Election Integrity Scorecard from the Heritage Foundation.

To determine its rankings, the Washington, D.C.-based free market think tank considered factors such as voter identification laws, accuracy of voter rolls, absentee ballot management, election observer access, vote harvesting restrictions, and verification of citizenship.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia were scored by the Heritage Foundation. It initially posted rankings in December, 2021, but regularly updates rankings based upon new laws.

“Americans need and deserve a transparent system in which fraud can be easily detected and false allegations of fraud can be easily dispelled,” the study said. “Americans need and deserve a system in which it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Washington received an overall score of 42 out of a possible 100, the sixth-worst in the nation.

The Evergreen State received seven out of 20 points for voter identification implementation, 26 out of 30 points for accuracy of voter registration lists, four out of 21 points for absentee ballot management, three out of three points for access of election observers, and two out three points for vote counting practices.

There were several categories in which Washington did not receive any points: zero out of four points for vote harvesting/trafficking restrictions, zero out of four points for verification of citizenship, zero out of three points each for identification for voter assistance, election litigation procedures, restrictions on same-day registration, restriction of automatic registration, and restriction of private funding of election officials or government agencies.

Still, Washington fared better than its southern neighbor Oregon, which was ranked No. 48.

Washington’s eastern neighbor, Idaho, came in at No. 37.

"The Office of the Secretary of State strives to ensure that elections are secure and accessible for all eligible voters," Charlie Boisner, director of external affairs, told The Center Square via email. "By providing options for voters to register, update their registration, or submit their ballot, barriers to voting are mitigated and all eligible voters have the opportunity to ensure their voice is heard. Washington has invested the time and resources to build the infrastructure and systems required to support vote by mail, and has been doing so since regularly since 1983. Through layered security measures, and partnership with state and federal agencies, voters can be confident that election security and integrity is maintained."

Election security in Washington came up during a debate earlier this month between current Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and nonpartisan challenger Julie Anderson, both of whom have advanced from the primary election to the Nov. 8 general election.

There was broad agreement between the two on the need to ensure the safety and security of the state’s election system, including more audits to further combat election misinformation.

Major areas of disagreement included the impact partisan labels have on a position that oversees elections at a time of national political polarization, as well as ranked choice voting.

The 10 states with the best election integrity, according to The Heritage Foundation:

1. Tennessee

2. Georgia

3. Alabama

4. Missouri

5. South Carolina

6. Arkansas (tie)

6. Florida (tie)

8. Texas

9. Louisiana (tie)

9. Wisconsin (tie)

The 10 states with the worst election integrity, according to The Heritage Foundation:

51. Hawaii

50. Nevada

49. California

48. Oregon

47. Vermont

45. New Jersey (tie)

45. Washington (tie)

44. Massachusetts

43. New York

42. Nebraska

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