Every piece of legislation considered by a body of elected officials has some kind of back story. Sometimes a bill is sparked by an idea from a constituent. That was the case with one bill (Senate Bill 5472) now waiting for Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s signature. It started with an innocuous question about election drop boxes. “A high school teacher in the town of Granite Falls asked me, ‘Why doesn’t my community have a drop box?’ His community, Granite Falls, has about 35-hundred people,” said Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe). The drop box to which he’s referring is a place where voters can take their completed ballots. The other option in Washington is to mail ballots. But Pearson doesn’t like that option, as he told his colleagues on the Senate floor in February.
“When you put a stamp on a ballot, to me, I kind of view that as a poll tax,” he said. “And this last election, with everything on the ballot, it took two stamps to vote. You add that, two first-class stamps, that’s almost a dollar, 98 cents. That’s not fair to the people.”
So Pearson introduced a bill that would require counties to buy and install more drop boxes where voters can take their ballots for free. There are about 300 of them in Washington. In Pearson’s county, there are 12. That’s not enough for him.
His bill requires counties to install one drop box per 15,000 registered voters, and at least one in every city and town and every area recognized by the census bureau with a post office.