A Monroe lawmaker’s bill that could more than double the number of ballot drop boxes in Washington is on its way to the state House after sailing through the Senate. On Monday, senators approved the legislation 49-0 with Republicans and Democrats predicting it will boost participation of voters by making it easier for them to return their ballots. “This is really important for people in the rural areas,” said Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, the bill’s sponsor. Many constituents in his 39th Legislative District must travel a long distance to find a box to return ballots postage-free, he said. Otherwise they need to use a stamp to mail in their ballots and that is like a poll tax, Pearson contended.
“It’s not right to make people pay to vote,” he said following the Senate action. “When you require people to put stamps on the ballot you’re discouraging people from voting.”
Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, said the bill will create uniformity in the availability of drop boxes in the state. By so doing, it will provide an avenue for more voters to avoid having to worry about a stamp, he said.
Senate Bill 5472 requires at least one ballot drop box for every 15,000 registered voters in a county and a minimum of one box in each city, town, and census-designated place in a county with a post office.