Secretary of State pushes for pre-paid postage for ballots

Kim Wyman is asking Gov. Jay Inslee for the authority to reimburse counties for postal costs.

Kim Wyman. Courtesy of Secretary of State office

Kim Wyman. Courtesy of Secretary of State office

As King County looks to pick up the postage tab for its voters in this year’s elections, Secretary of State Kim Wyman will try to make it possible for every county in Washington to do the same for their voters.

She will ask Gov. Jay Inslee this week for the authority to reimburse counties for the cost of postage on ballots returned by mail in the primary and general elections.

Wyman announced her plan Monday in testimony to the King County Council on its prepaid postage proposal. She asked the council to delay final approval while she made her pitch to the governor. The council put off a vote for a week.

“When it comes to prepaid postage, I believe two components are necessary,” Wyman said in her prepared testimony. “One, that it be implemented statewide, and two, that it cover every election. We have to treat every voter in the state fairly and equally, and do everything we can to avoid confusing voters.”

Wyman needs Inslee to grant her the ability and resources to reimburse all 39 counties, including King County, for return postage costs for the two elections. The tab will be about $1.8 million — $622,602 in the primary and $1,156,261 in the general.

She will cast it as an emergency because counties face an approaching deadline to begin printing return ballot envelopes for the August election, her office said. For Snohomish County, it is mid- to late-May, according to a county election official.

“We will review the particular proposal,” said Tara Lee, a spokeswoman for Inslee. “Generally the governor is supportive of prepaid postage to increase access to democracy.”

Legislation for prepaid postage has been introduced in the Legislature each of the past two years but not received a vote in either the House or Senate. Wyman backed those efforts.

And last week Sens. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, and Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, announced plans to try again in 2019.

Meanwhile, a 2017 law sought to make it a little easier and cheaper for voters by expanding the number of drop boxes in which they can place their ballots without any postage.

The law requires drop boxes be placed in every city, town and census designated location.

This year, lawmakers passed legislation that aims to get more people registered and voting. One new law will expand automatic registration efforts.

Another law, known as same-day registration, will allow a person to register and vote on Election Day. The bills will take effect in time for the 2019 primary and general elections.

jcornfield@herald net.com

This story first appeared in the Everett Herald.

More in News

Local estate awards $10 million to local colleges

Seventeen technical and community colleges will use the funds for scholarships, grants

Two Renton officers involved in shooting

Suspect allegedly had a shotgun and a knife

Despite concerns, homelessness authority moves toward final Seattle vote

Seattle’s homelessness committee aligned the city’s plan with King County’s.

King County’s current climate action plan was adopted in 2015 and has provided a blueprint for reducing emissions and preparing for climate change. File photo
King County approves environmental justice provision

An update to the King County climate action plan should include an… Continue reading

Homelessness authority approved by King County, awaits Seattle vote

The agreement would consolidate emergency services for people experiencing homelessness.

The King County Courthouse is located at 516 Third Ave. in downtown Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Council approves $600,000 to increase security at King County Courthouse

The funding will be split evenly between increasing deputies, security and social services.

New gym gains national attention

Photo by Kevin Pieczynski-Jones At the new Renton business Benavidez Sports Training,… Continue reading

Luck be Renton’s lady

Chamber of commerce ends the year in style

Photo courtesy of city of Renton. New Councilmember Valerie O’Halloran and her husband, Michael.
O’Halloran takes her seat

Councilmember sworn in before the new year

Most Read