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Document Code No.: ELE 9-2 (PR)
Department/Issuing Agency: DEA/Records and Elections Division
Effective Date: June 14, 1991
Approved: /s/ Tim Hill
Type of Action: New

Signed document (PDF, 2.0 MB)



1.0 SUBJECT TITLE: King County Election Polling Places. Use of Facility for Purposes other than Voting.

2.0 PURPOSE:

2.1 To establish policies governing the coordinated use of polling places by other than election officials for purposes other than voting, and the procedures for obtaining authorization for such use when warranted.

3.0 ORGANIZATIONS AFFECTED:

3.1 King County Division of Records and Elections, Department of Executive Administration.

3.2 Public and private agencies providing the use of facilities for the purpose of conducting elections.

3.3 Any person or organization proposing to conduct an activity within an election polling place, other than voting.

4.0 REFERENCES:

4.1 Chapter 29.5 1. Revised Code of Washington (RCW) - Polling Place Regulations.
4.2 King County Division of Records and Elections, Election Officials Procedures Manual, "During Election Day - Polling Place Procedures."

5.0 DEFINITIONS:

5.1 "Polling place" is any contained space within which voting devices and/or ballot boxes are placed for the purpose of conducting an election under the provisions of state law as contained in Title 29, Revised Code of Washington.

5.2 "Other activities" are any activities not prescribed by law or regulation for the conduct of an election, or not directly related thereto.

5.3 "Public interest," as used in the context of this rule, refers to the results of a given activity generally contributing to the social or economic betterment, safety or welfare of the citizens of King County as a whole, or to a specific group of citizens who are formally acting in behalf of other citizens of the county.

5.4 "Manager" is the Manager of King County Records and Elections Division, or designee.

6.0 POLICIES:

6.1 It is the intent of the Records and Elections Division to act in the public interest while complying with applicable statutes, regulations, and rules governing the conduct of elections.

6.2 In conformance with state law, on the day of any primary, general or special election, no person may, within a polling place, or in any public area within three hundred feet of any entrance to such polling place:

6.2.1 Do any electioneering;

6.2.2 Circulate cards or handbills of any kind;

6.2.3 Solicit signatures to any kind of petition;

6.2.4 Engage in any practice which interferes with the freedom of voters to exercise their right to vote, or that disrupts the administration of the polling place.

6.3 Additionally, no person may obstruct the doors or entries to a building in which a polling place is located, or prevent free access to and from the polling place.

6.4 As a general rule, no other activities within a polling place shall be permitted as such activities can be considered to detract from the decorum of the voting process, distract voters from exercising their franchise, or interfere with the election officials in carrying out their duties in administering the election process.

6.5 Exceptions to the general rule may be made at the discretion of the Manager when it is determined that such activities:

6.5.1 Are not contrary to statutory criteria stated in sections 6.2 and 6.3 above; and 6.5.2 Serve the public interest; and

6.5.3 Can better achieve their objective by taking place in the polling place during a primary, special, or general election; and

6.5.4 Can only be performed in the polling place and do not materially interfere with the election activity; and

6.5.5 The activity is not related to the candidacy of any offices or to any measures which the voters will be considering at the election.

6.6 Additional criteria to assist in determining whether an exception may be provided include the following:

6.6.1 The activity is passive, that is voters may participate in the activity at their own choosing without any active solicitation, or are not required to participate at all. 6.6.2 The activity is confined to space available without restricting the most effective layout of election equipment and devices.

6.6.3 The activity does not require the transaction of money in the polling place.

6.7 If a waiver of the general rule is granted by the Manager, it shall be with the condition that should the polling place inspector, or the senior inspector if more than one, as the representative of the Manager, determine during the course of the election that the other activity is not in compliance with statutory requirements (see Sections 6.2 and 6.3), or in the inspector's opinion, is not meeting any other conditions contained in the authorization agreement, the waiver shall be withdrawn and the activity ceased. All material related to the activity shall be removed from the polling place.

6.8 Persons or organizations considering the conduct of other activities within a designated polling place during the course of a primary, special or general election and who feel that the activity proposed may warrant an exception to the general rule stated in the policy section of this document shall request, in writing, a determination from the Manager.

6.9 Requests for determination must be received by the Manager no later than the close of business on the second Tuesday prior to the primary or election date.

6.10 Any physical set-up required for activities for which a general rule waiver is granted shall be accomplished prior to the commencement of the voting period at seven a.m. on the primary, special or general election date and coordinated with the polling place inspector. If set-up is required or desired on a day prior to the primary, special or general election date, approval must be received from the building's administration to ensure that the space is available.

6.11 These policies are applicable to all other activities proposed to take place within a designated polling place during the conduct of a primary, special or general election. Other activities which are proposed to take place within the same building but not within the space designated as the polling place which are not in conflict with state law (see policies in Sections 6.2 and 6.3) are excluded from the application of these policies. Questions of authorization should be referred to the building's administration. However, in the event of any question of applicability, the Manager, by virtue of the responsibility assigned by state law, reserves the right to make the final determination.

6.12 Specific Exceptions:

(a) The voting process, aside from the actual vote which is secret, is a public process and may be observed by members of the public without prior approval provided that statutory policies of Sections 6.2 and 6.3 are observed. For that reason, the number of persons observing must be limited as determined by the polling place inspector. (b) Poll watchers appointed by a political party or committee are entitled to polling place privileges specified in RCW 29.51.125 and do not require advance approval. However, proof of designation shall be carried on the person.

6.13 Media. The observation of the election process by members of the media fall under the public observation exemption indicated in Section 6.12(a). However, any polling or interviewing of voters shall be done outside the immediate surroundings of the polling place itself. Video media wishing to televise the election process at a polling place shall obtain advance approval from the Manager. Such approval should be in simple written request format indicating the desired polling place and times. However, an oral request may be accepted. Such requests normally will be approved provided that no more than one media unit at a time in a given polling place will be permitted. The granting of such authorizations are, or course, subject to the statutory policies reiterated in Sections 6.2 and 6.3. Such media coverage shall avoid any activity which the voters might reasonably construe as breaching the privacy of their vote.

7.0 PROCEDURES:

Action By: Person Requesting Waiver Action:

7.1 Submits written request to the Manager no later than the close of business on the second Tuesday prior to the primary or general election date in the form of EXHBIT A. (See Section 9.1).

Action By: Manager

Action:

7.2 Reviews request and makes one of the following determinations: 7.2.1 The general rule applies. No waiver granted. 7.2.2 Waiver granted. Authority granted subject to-state law prohibitions.

7.2.3 Waiver granted. Approval to conduct activity subject to additional conditions as stated in addition to state law prohibitions.

7.3 Notifies requester of detemination by means of waiver approval form. (See EXHIBIT B, Section 9.2)

7.3.1 If waiver is granted, include identity of polling place inspector to be contacted.

Action By: Person Requesting Waiver

Action:

7.4 Contacts polling place inspector prior to setting-up in the polling place to ensure that the set-up is coordinated with preparations for voting and that the actual location of the activity is consistent with the inspector's plans for voting arrangements. 7.5 On the day of the primary or general election, presents copy of waiver approval form to polling place inspector.

Action By: Polling Place Inspector

Action:

7.6 If polling place inspector finds it necessary to terminate other activities at the polling place during the course of the election because activities conflict with policies set forth in Section 6.0: 7.6.1 Notifies Manager by telephone at 296-1540; 7.6.2 Writes reasons for termination on the reverse of the copy of waiver approval form.

7.6.3 Returns waiver approval form to the Election Office in the poll book jacket along with inspector's check lists.

8.0 RESPONSIBILITIES:

8.1 The Manager is responsible for ensuring that provisions of state law governing prohibited practices in or in the vicinity of polling places are carried out and the election officials supervising the conduct of voting at polling places are trained to enforce those provisions. In the event that the use of a polling place is proposed for other than election purposes, the Manager shall determine whether such activity is prohibited by state law, and if not, whether it is in the public interest to allow such activity in consonance with the policies of the directive.

8.2 Polling place inspectors are responsible for carrying out the duties prescribed in the Election Officials' Manual with regard to the decorum of the polling place and the activities conducted therein and shall terminate any activities which are prohibited or which appear to interfere with the proper administration of the election.

8.3 Persons or organizations sponsoring or supervising the conduct of other activities approved to be conducted within a polling place are responsible for ensuring that the policies of this document regarding such activities are complied with, and in no way interfere with, the conduct of voting activities.

9.0 APPENDICES:

These appendices are available from the Records and Elections Division:

9.1 EXHIBIT A: Format for Requesting Waiver Approval

9.2 EXHIBIT B: Waiver Request Response Form