Covering return postage for the state’s all-mail balloting would cost about $1 million for a presidential election and about $2.7 million for the next two years, a Senate committee was told Monday. But supporters of a proposal to do just that say it would make voting more convenient and remove a possible barrier for poor residents. “Of all the barriers (to voting), being poor should not be one of them,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle. “I think today, for some people it’s pretty hard to find a postage stamp,” said Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn.
State and county elections officials attempted, without much success, to tamp down the enthusiasm for an idea that’s surfaced in other years but has yet to become law. Monty Cobb, lobbyist for the state’s county officials, told Pearson that it’s possible to turn in a ballot for free in a drop box.
The mechanics are difficult, because if counties use a postage meter to stamp the return envelopes, they’ll pay for the ballots that aren’t returned as well as the ones that are. The post office also doesn’t always postmark envelopes with metered stamps, and postmarks are necessary to determine whether the ballots that arrive after Election Day were mailed by the deadline.