Re: “Mail-only vote next?” (TNT, 1-13).
I admit that I got a little wistful reading the coverage of HB 1002, the bill set to be the final nail in the coffin of Pierce County’s tradition of poll voting. My parents took me to the polls since I could walk. I, too, registered as a poll voter, and remain one today despite our dwindling numbers. It still gives me a sense of civic pride and engagement.
Nonetheless, I applaud freshman Pierce County Reps. Laurie Jinkins and Connie Ladenburg for co-sponsoring HB 1002. Vote-by-mail is simply better public policy. Proponents point out that it increases turnout and decreases confusion, both of which are true.
However, the most convincing argument is economical. Even in high-turnout elections, polling places cost several times as much per ballot as vote-by-mail. With the upcoming federal mandate to provide translator services, the polling place tab could push toward $100,000 for the big 2012 election.
We should refocus on providing secure, accountable, low-cost election services. As well-meaning as they may be, abstractions about civic connectivity do not justify $100,000 when the state is struggling to provide many basic services.