Registered voters throughout Washington will soon be receiving ballots for the Aug. 7 primary election, and thanks to Secretary of State Kim Wyman, Governor Jay Inslee, and county officials statewide, voters in every county can return their ballots via the U.S. Postal Service without having to pay for a stamp.
“Statewide voter participation is a huge priority,” Wyman said, “and all Washingtonians deserve the best possible opportunity for their voices to be heard. By extending the convenience of postage-free ballot return envelopes to every voter in the state, we are leading the nation in providing access to democracy.”
Ferry County Auditor Dianna Galvan said that she had successfully overcome initial budget concerns to join the rest of the state in providing prepaid postage on ballot return envelopes for all Ferry County voters.
“I believe that government must be a good steward of taxpayer money. The cost of using business reply mail through the post office would have been more than the grant money coming from the state, so initially it didn’t make sense for us to proceed with the prepaid ballot return postage,” Galvan said. “However, we just became aware that simply purchasing first-class stamps for every voter in the county was also an option, and that cost is significantly less than business reply mail. The grant funding from the Secretary of State’s Office will be enough to cover that cost, so I’m very pleased we’re able to participate after all.”
This spring, Wyman and Inslee announced an historic agreement to fund statewide ballot return postage for the 2018 primary and general elections via grants totaling $1.2 million for county auditors in 38 counties. Because the King County Metropolitan Council had previously agreed to fund postage for voters there, Wyman additionally called for the Legislature to reimburse the approximate $600,000 cost King County will incur.
Wyman added that she will also ask the Legislature in 2019 to make postage-paid ballot returns permanent.
Washington’s Office of Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees, and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.