A state Senate bill that would require counties to increase the number of ballot drop boxes could bump the cost of elections in Kitsap County by more than $50,000, election officials say. The bill, which is awaiting the governor’s signature, would force counties to add one drop box for every 15,000 voters, one in every city and in each census-designated place with a post office. Sen. Kirk Pearson, R- Monroe, the bill’s lone sponsor, argued in testimony that adding more ballot boxes would increase access to voting in smaller, less-populated areas. The cost of postage should be considered a barrier that discourages people from voting, he said. But county election officials say the parameters of the measure are too restrictive and would force taxpayers to bear the brunt of the cost.
Kitsap County has long operated a ballot box per 15,000 voters and in each city, according to county auditor Dolores Gilmore. Requiring a box in each census-designated place in the county would double the current total placed around the county and cost at least $50,000 to install.
“We don’t have any budget for that this year, so we would have to go to commissioners to request the budget to be able to implement that,” Gilmore said.