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Mailing your Pierce County ballot will cost an estimated 61 cents this year

Post by David Wickert on Oct. 15, 2009 at 10:12 am with 22 Comments »
October 15, 2009 11:34 am

The right to vote is priceless. But exercising that right in Pierce County this year may cost you 61 cents.

Auditor Jan Shabro confirmed that’s the estimated cost of postage for mailing this November’s absentee ballot. The reason? The ballot includes two cards: one for the shabrolone county ranked choice voting race (for auditor) and one for everything else.

Shabro said there was no way to design one card for all races.

“If you were to examine our regular ballot, you would see it is full (nine countywide measures and local measures as well),” she said. “There’s no room left to put a ranked choice voting measure on it.”

Last November ‘s ballot also featured two cards. The auditor’s office paid for postage last year because it was the first election featuring ranked choice voting and the office wanted to make it as voting as possible. Shabro said the office won’t pick up the cost this year because of budget cuts and because voters now have experience using RCV.

So why is the 61 cents an estimate? “If a voter includes a note (and some do), then the postage is more,” Shabro said. “If people want to put the exact amount of postage on the envelope, they will need to go to their post office.”

Shabro said the office has made it clear in the voters’ pamphlet and on the return envelope that extra postage is required.

There are other options for absentee voters. The auditor’s office has a number of express booths, ballot drop boxes and poll sites around the county where people can drop off their ballots for free. A list of sites is included in the voters’ pamphlet, which were mailed Wednesday.

Update: Last year wasn’t the only year Pierce County has paid the cost of mailing ballots. In 2004 then-Auditor Pat McCarthy decided to pay for postage for the September primary ballot. The ballot included a survey designed to gauge voter opinion of the “pick a party” primary that was being used.

Also of note: in 2006 the King County general election ballot cost 63 cents to mail. That’s because it was so full of ballot measures, charter amendments and initiatives that it pushed the length of the ballot card to 18 inches.

Leave a comment Comments → 22
  1. jimkingjr says:

    Another benefit of the failed RCV experiment…

  2. NineInchNachosII says:

    test test

  3. NineInchNachosII says:

    another benefit of having a dont-believe-in-government republican working to undermine system of voting that overrides big corrupt political parties appointed to a fake non-partisan position of pierce county auditor.

  4. There are several jurisdictions that have RCV and non-RCV races on the same ballot. The fact that we have separate ballots is not RCV’s fault, it is the fault of the Auditor.

  5. thriceallamerican says:

    It’s downright irresponsible for the Auditor to be scapegoating RCV on this. She clearly says that the non-RCV ballot is full, meaning that even if the races on the RCV ballot had been non-RCV they wouldn’t have fit. Yet Shabro, et al, seem to have no problem blaming RCV yet again. Shame on them.

  6. NotASheep says:

    This is just another way that Jan is trying to make people dislike RCV… Does she happen to mention that she strongly opposes RCV? She says that it increases costs (which initially it did, for the equipment) but in the long term will actually save money since there will be no need for a primary.

    And *even* if it did increase costs…it’s the fairest way to hold an election! The political parties choose their leaders using this method, so why when the “common folk” want to use this method, is it all the sudden “an experiment gone bad” or a “disaster”? I say it’s because RCV is harder for them to rig, since they can’t force people to pick the lessor of 2 evils.

    With Jan’s (and the county council’s) way of thinking, we might as well just let them pick our leaders for us since it would be cheaper… Cost should not be the reason to get rid of it. If we can’t have fair elections then *nothing* else matters.

  7. khaughton says:

    If the ballot is too full of charter amendments to be able to fit onto one ballot card, then the cost of going to two ballot cards is the responsibility of the County Council for putting three self-serving charter amendments on the ballot.

    These three charter amendments are costing the county $600,000 and voters $0.61 to mail.

    Reject all three charter amendments. Tell the county council to stop wasting our tax money by putting personal agendas on the ballot.

  8. S_Emerson says:

    Another example of why the voters need to rid of Shabro. She couldn’t foresee this issue, and inform the council and executive in advance? Or, is it that she knew it all along, yet chose NOT to inform them?

    Shabro’s appointment by the county council was a horrible ploy to gain power, and is now a ridiculous waste of our tax dollars by paying the salary of someone who is intentionally attempting to sabotage this election.

    For those who haven’t read about Shabro forcing a candidate to withdraw, and then taking waaaay too long to admit her error (and has yet to come clean about her claim that she contacted the prosecuting attorney) – see the TNT article The rest of the story in Bethel school board race.

    Shabro needs to go, and I’m happy to help make that happen with my vote to elect Julie Anderson for County Auditor.

  9. I wonder how many Pierce County voters will be disenfranchised by Jan Shabro because they do not understand that extra postage is required or because they cannot or do not pay it. Shabro was handed the job of Auditor by her Republican friends on the County Council. The County has paid for such extra postage in the past. Why not now? Shabro has indidcated she has no intention of receiving ballots that lack sufficient postage. Where was the earlier communication? While the ballot materials indicate that extra postage is needed, nothing tells the voter HOW MUCH extra. Buried in the voter’s pamphlet, there’s a reference to .61 cents. But how many people will see that? This is going to further reduce voter turnout in this off-year election. Maybe Shabro – a candidate for office in this election – doesn’t want a good turnout against a popular candidate with a proven track record of public service, Julie Anderson.

  10. Way to suppress voter turnout in your own favor.


  11. If the only reason that the RCV race is on a separate ballot card is because there are too many races to fit all of them on one, why, oh why is the Auditor blaming RCV for the entire cost of the second ballot?

    And why, oh why, do we want to move MORE races to odd years – won’t that increase costs by the $650,000 the Auditor is claiming the additional ballot costs? If Auditor, Assessor-Treasurer, Sheriff, Executive, and 7 council races all get moved to odd years, how many ballot cards will we need then? And will all of the increased costs continue to be blamed on RCV?

    Come to think of it, I am hard pressed to think of a single problem with the election process that has not already been blamed on RCV. Large voter turnout in a presidential year? (RCV’s fault). Not enough poll workers on election night? (RCV’s fault). Late election results? (RCV’s fault), inadequate testing and memeory overflows? (RCV’s fault). While we’re at it let’s blame global warming, the Iraq war, the recession, teenage preganancy and pimples on RCV.

    RCV has become the too convenient whipping boy of the auditor, and with this last claim she has clearly exposed her prejudice.

    We need to reject all three of these County Charter Amendments and trade in this Auditor. These are not the actions of a Non-Partisan public officer.

  12. ldozy1234 says:

    So they closed multiple polls due to costs
    The Exec. ran to Olympia to try and force Pierce County to end poll voting forever -period. ( against the voters and Council wishes)
    The current Auditor tried to close polls this election blaming the budget.
    They will reject mail in votes without approp. postage
    They want to dump RCV and $$ machines already purchased based on elections run by now TWO Auditors blatantly against RCV calling it a failure?
    They can’t figure out how to run an election combining RCV and a standard ballot despite other areas successfully doing so.

    Me thinks the biggest problem here is voters who actually believe they have a VOTE .If all these efforts ever become successful , Pierce can make headlines for being the County who disenfranchised the whole election system and voters rights here.
    Brought to you by the same group pushing for extended term limits……… and additional voting years.
    Scary indeed!

  13. ldozy1234 says:

    P.S. Jan:
    Ya think you could have decreased the font advertising your name on the ballots and instead actually served the public by increasing the font regarding the cost of this mailing? Or would that been too self sacrificing?
    Absolutely disgusted with this whole group!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. smcelhiney says:

    While she was chopping election costs by reducing word counts that candidates could use for their statements… something that the voters actually might want to know… how much costs could she have saved by eliminating her full page of the voter’s pamphlet? How much cost in ink would have been saved by NOT using a big bold font on the return address for JAN SHABRO?

    I thought I would be mailing my ballot to the Elections Office… not to her personally. Silly me…

    Of course the other way to save money would have been to use a lighter paper for the ballots, but I’m guessing someone has that contract. Hey could have used smaller print… the newspapers do that. But I guess reducing the message of the candidates is makes more sense and reducing the likelyhood of your vote actually getting to the Elections Office makes more sense.

  15. Just another Stipek clone, and why do you have to print her picture every time you do a story about the auditor’s office??

  16. Using the Auditor’s logic, I wonder why she did not lay the entire cost of this election at the feet of her predecessor? It was her predecessor, after all, that abandoned her elected office to chase another county job and so created the need for the Auditor’s special election in the first place. If Pat McCarthy had finished the job she was elected to do, there would be no need for an Auditor special election this year.

    But I suppose once you start blaming every election ill on RCV, it’s hard to stop.

  17. I’m just going to drop my ballot off at the drop off booth like I normally do, after voting to put an end to RCV, of course.

  18. David Wickert says:

    A couple folks have asked me why we keep putting Shabro’s photo on the blog and why we put her name in bold.

    First, we put every name in bold, not just Shabro’s. It helps people scan for names they might be interested in.

    Second, we use photos of elected officials (and other people) on our blogs just like we use them in the newspaper. It’s a way of identifying people (a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say). It also makes the newspaper (and the blogs) more visually interesting. Political Buzz is a politics blog, so most of the photos tend to be of politicians. I write about Pierce County government and politics, so my posts include a lot of photos of people like Shabro, Dale Washam, Pat McCarthy, etc.

    The complaint seems to be that publishing photos gives politicians unfair exposure – like Shabro is accused of doing by putting her name on the return envelope for absentee ballots. But I would say that having your photo in the newspaper (or on a blog) next to a story about how you’ll have to pay 61 cents to mail a ballot isn’t necessarily the kind of exposure politicians are looking for.

  19. wandertom says:

    I was outraged to see in TNT’s article today appointed Pierce County Auditor Jan Shabro’s manipulations. It was not enough for Shabro to stamp her name all over the ballot envelopes in 18 point font in an election where she is a candidate. Shabro also had to make voting as complicated and expensive as possible. Shabro designed the bulkiest possible mail ballots, and when put on the spot by TNT, she admitted your ballot will cost an estimated 61 cents to mail. There is a phase in politics for this–“voter suppression”. Google it.

    The dirty little secret is that Jan Shabro is anything but non-partisan. She was appointed by the heavily (5-2) Republican Pierce County Council. She then hired, Deryl McCarty, former Chair of the Pierce County Republicans to be our Chief Deputy Auditor. McCarty just happens to be chair of a political PAC to elect Republicans, and as a county employee even donated to his boss’ campaign!

    Shabro ran an a Republican in her last three elections. No wonder it took favors from the Republican dominated county council to actually get into public office. Who does she owe?

    The county auditor is supposed to be a non-partisan position to ensure fair elections. Shabro has proved not to be trustworthy. We have an experienced and principled alternative for auditor. Vote for Julie Anderson for Pierce County Auditor…and make sure of proper postage!

  20. The name on the envelope struck me as well. From my viewpoint, I’m not sending my ballot to a person; rather, I’m sending it to the office with the charter to receive it. The name of the occupant of that office is irrelevant in this context. So why am I seeing Shabro’s name in 18 point font?

    So… either this is illegal or unethical electioneering, or a normal state of affairs — or both. Honestly, I just can’t remember (if I *ever* noticed) if the county auditor’s name is always included on ballot envelopes. Someone help me out here…

  21. the3rdpigshouse says:

    Maybe if you whining and sniveling dullards went to the polling booths to cast your votes you could stop whining about the postage!!!

  22. favoredandblessed says:

    You go Jan! You have done a great job so far…The posts listed above are just folks so unhappy with their own lives they have to throw dirt…take your ball people and go home! You GO JAN!!! You are my #1 and only choice. And NO I don’t work for her or the republicans!!! I have my own brain and use it.

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