Friday, February 01, 2008

We may not have to pay for postage on mail-in ballots

But, even more drop off boxes might be even more ideal. Maybe we can call it a "drop off" election.

Small brew-haha in Thurston County last fall when an old fellow decided not to put postage on his ballot. The ballot was delivered anyway, and the county started sending him stamps, avoiding pissing the guy off, but raising the question of why ballots don't come with pre-paid postage in the first place.

Previous entries on the topic:
Thurston County can afford to pay for our ballots to be mailed
Why do we need to pay for stamps to vote anyway?

Well, if a bill passes this legislative session, the state will require counties to pay postage on ballots. SB 6199 (HB 1483 in the House) will have a public hearing in the Government Operations & Elections committee on Monday morning.

The house version was heard last year. Here's the audio file.










Sam Reed, former Thurston County auditor and now secretary of state, pointed out that Thurston did at one point pay for ballot postage during special elections in the late 80s. He said that paying for postage didn't boost participation, and that the county would pay for postage anyway if someone didn't affix a stamp.

I think that Reed's experiment was too inconsistent to get a real sense of whether it would increase participation.

Kim Wyman said something interesting that by expanding permanent drop off boxes open during the election cycles, they were able to somewhat solve the postage as poll tax complaint. Twenty-five percent of voters in Thurston County used a drop box during the last election, she said. Here are the drop off box locations in Thurston County.

Here is the bill analysis (pdf file).

The fiscal note (pdf file) on the bill pegged the cost at $2.5 million every two years for the state (as they would reimburse the county for the cost). The cost per ballot could go about the going rate for mail because of the size of some ballots in some counties.

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