OLYMPIA — Ballots for the upcoming August primary are being mailed and the good news is that return postage is already paid for by the state.
Ballots started to be sent Wednesday and will continue being sent through Friday. The start of the 18-day voting period begins on Friday and runs all the way up to the Aug. 7 primary election. Last spring Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Governor Jay Inslee announced an agreement to fund ballot return postage statewide for the primary and general elections in 2018. The postage, which was paid for via grants, totals $1.2 million for 38 county auditors across the state.
“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.”
With return postage paid for state officials are hoping to boost voter turnout. Over the last five years voter turnout statewide has averaged a little over 28 percent during primary elections and almost 51 percent during general elections.
Locally, voter turnout in Adams County has averaged about 35 percent during primary elections and a hair under 50 percent during general elections. In Grant County voter turnout has averaged about 30 percent for primary elections and slightly under 50 percent for general elections. The general election averages are a little bit skewed, as they include 2016, which was a presidential election year and voter turnout is usually higher during those years.
Wyman says she will be asking the legislature in 2019 to make prepaid ballot postage a permanent service in Washington.
Richard Byrd can be reached via email at email@example.com.