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 lone 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.