Metropolitan King County Council
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
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Nov. 17, 2008
Council acts to prevent conflicts of interest for new office of King County Elections Director
Voters who created elective office also called for Council to set qualificationsNow that voters have made the job of King County Elections Director an elective office and empowered the King County Council to set qualifications for the office, the Council today unanimously set three standards that help ensure the new officeholder is impartial and free of any conflicts of interest.
"Voters who want an elected Elections Director have also signaled they want the officeholder to be qualified and free of any partisan or commercial loyalties," said Council Chair Julia Patterson, who sponsored the legislation. “These simple requirements will help ensure public confidence in that office."
“The citizens of King County have created the new elected office of Elections Director,” said Councilmember Dow Constantine. “These common-sense qualifications will ensure this new countywide elected official will have proper training and be free from serious conflicts of interest.”
“These general qualifications will help ensure that our elections director remains impartial as well as knowledgeable and qualified to conduct the most fair and accurate elections,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert.
“The Council has worked hard to restore voter confidence in our Elections Division, and these qualifications safeguard that work as the director’s role is transitioned into an elected position,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson.
The ordinance adopted today adds three specific qualifications for the office of Elections Director that require that the person who is elected:
• Cannot hold an office in a political party while serving as the Director of Elections.
• Cannot have worked for, performed paid services for, or hold a financial interest in any non-governmental company that designs, manufactures or sells elections tabulation or voter registration equipment or software, for one year immediately before filing to run for, being appointed to, or holding the office.
• Must earn certification as an elections administrator from the Washington Secretary of State within 30 months of being elected or appointed to the office, and meet all continuing education requirements.
The King County Charter currently requires only that a candidate for County office be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen, and a resident and registered voter in King County.
Voters in the general election approved King County Charter Amendment Number 1, which made Director of Elections an elective office, and Charter Amendment Number 4, which permits the Council to set qualifications for that office. Today’s council action is contingent upon formal certification of election results on November 25.
The office of Elections Director will appear on the February 2009 ballot, with no primary runoff beforehand.