Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman testified before the King County Council today that all voters in Washington should have the same access to the ballot box, and called on Gov. Inslee to provide her with emergency spending authority to fund prepaid postage for all ballots in every county across the state for the 2018 elections.
“When it comes to prepaid postage, I believe two components are necessary,” Wyman told the council as they considered an ordinance that would provide pre-paid postage for voters only in King County. “One, that it be implemented statewide, and two, that it cover every election. We have to treat every voter in the state fairly and equally, and do everything we can to avoid confusing voters.”
The issue is both convenience for voters and equity across counties:
Wyman has long supported prepaid postage on ballot return envelopes, including supporting legislation in the 2018 legislative session, and has worked with members of the state’s congressional delegation on federal legislation to address the challenges of getting a postmark on pre-paid ballots. She told the council that only a few large counties can afford to fund pre-paid postage on ballots and that Seattle’s large media market will also cause confusion among voters about whether their ballot’s postage has been covered.
“This decision should not be made in a vacuum because the impacts will not remain in a vacuum,” Wyman added. “The reality is, while this decision may appear to only affect King County voters, it has a statewide impact on the remaining counties.”
The secretary concluded by urging the council to support her request of the governor for emergency spending authority to help all 39 counties in Washington participate equally.
This request follows pilot local efforts in Washington and elsewhere on prepaid postage, and represents a potential next step in state investment in vote-by-mail. I’ll be curious to see if the request is approved – and if so, what it costs and how effective it is across the state. Stay tuned …