The Postal Service is currently petitioning the agency that oversees it, the Postal Regulatory Commission, to grant the biggest change to its pricing system in a half century: the authority to lift a cap on postal rates. The commission’s decision is expected within weeks. If the Postal Service gets the ability to raise rates, it could add substantially to the cost of mailing prescription drugs and magazines, for example. Packaging and bulk-mail rates also would be affected, straining tight budgets for an increasing number of state and local governments that distribute election ballots by mail. Colorado, Oregon and Washington conduct elections almost entirely by mail, while California is making the switch and will fully do so beginning with the 2020 elections. Most other states also mail out ballots as a part of early voting. Ballots are typically distributed via bulk mail and returned by voters with first-class postage.
… Wendy Underhill, director for elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said additional costs in mailing ballots would be a problem even though many states and counties also allow voters to drop off ballots at polling sites. Legislatures in California, New York and Washington have been wrestling over whether they should pay for return postage as part of a growing trend of vote by mail, sensitive to complaints that the added cost to voters might be criticized as a “poll tax.”
“Any government service has costs associated with them, so when the price of poll workers or postage goes up, so do the cost of running elections,” she said.