Washington state demands voter information over ballot pickups

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SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington secretary of state’s office sent a letter Tuesday telling Republicans and Democrats to provide the names and addresses of any voters whose ballots have been collected by the parties or affiliates.

State elections co-director Katie Blinn sent the letter to the state party chairmen, their counterparts in the Democratic and Republican parties in King County, and the campaign managers for gubernatorial candidates Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee.

Voters in King County had previously been warned by election officials not to give their ballots to groups offering to collect them but to instead mail ballots themselves or drop them off at official locations.

It’s not illegal for parties to pick up voters’ ballots, but Blinn said there are concerns about the potential for intimidation and tampering.

Blinn contacted state political officials following reports about the “GOP Victory Van” program, which sought to help suburban voters in King County return their ballots. Blinn said there were similar ballot collection efforts by Democrats in 2010.

The secretary of state’s office drew a distinction between ballot collection and voter registration drives.

Kirby Wilbur, the state Republican Party chairman, said that by collecting ballots, the GOP was simply copying what Democrats did in 2010.

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