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Anderson: Shabro could have done more to pay Pierce County ballot postage

Post by David Wickert on Oct. 19, 2009 at 2:09 pm with 29 Comments »
October 19, 2009 2:17 pm

Pierce County auditor candidate Julie Anderson says Auditor Jan Shabro could have done more to pay postage for this year’s absentee ballots, or at least could have done a better job of telling voters their ballot will need extra postage.

Julie Anderson
Julie Anderson

As I reported last week, the November ballot will require an estimated 61 cents of postage, thanks to the extra ballot card Shabro says is needed to accommodate ranked choice voting. Last year the office paid the postage on absentee ballots. This year, it’s not.

Shabro said last week the office can’t afford postage this year because of budget cuts. And she said voters now have experience using ranked choice voting, so the paid postage is less important.

Anderson, a Tacoma City Council member, disagrees. In a press release today, she said the auditor’s office has a dedicated postal fund on deposit with the U.S. Postal Service that could have been used to pay ballot postage this year. The release quotes former auditor and current County Executive Pat McCarthy, who said the fund contains as much as $100,000. The money was set aside for postage last year but wasn’t used, McCarthy said.

Shabro said the money already is spoken for. She said the office needed it to mail voters pamphlets, ballots and other materials.

“Every penny in that account needs to be there just for us to do our regular business,” she said.

Shabro said the postal account currently has about $88,000 remaining. She estimated paying for ballot postage this year would cost about $85,000. But that would leave nothing left over for upcoming elections, including three special elections next year.

“It would be very difficult to come up with money to keep replenishing that account,” Shabro said. “It’s a good financial decision we made very consciously to stretch our dollars as far as we could.”

Anderson also faults Shabro for not doing enough to inform the public about the extra postage. She cited what she said is inconsistent language in election materials. For example, she said the ballot return envelope states that “additional postage is required.” The stamp placement box says “requires additional first class postage.” Page 2 of the voters pamphlet states that “an estimated 61 cents” is needed.

“Everyone understands one stamp, two stamps,” Anderson said. “But not everyone will understand Shabro’s vague and contradictory instructions about the amount of extra postage needed.”

Shabro said the office has alerted voters that extra postage is needed in many places.

“We’ve got it worded many ways in many places to get as many peoples’ attention as possible,” Shabro said.

You can read Anderson’s full press release below.



Monique LeTourneau

Friends for Julie Anderson

(253) 761-3602


Ballot postage paranoia may have been preventable

TACOMA, Wash. – Oct. 19, 2009 – As Pierce County voters apply an estimated 61 cents in postage to return their ballots this year, caution is required.

Concerned, Pierce County Auditor candidate Julie Anderson recently asked County Executive Pat McCarthy why and how she managed to pay postage in prior elections.

In 2004 and 2008, then-Auditor McCarthy decided to pay the cost of additional postage for returned ballots by using business reply envelopes to guarantee delivery.

McCarthy said a dedicated postal fund on deposit with the United States Postal Service – containing as much as $100,000 – should still exist as carryover from the November 2008 election.

Conversely, in a News Tribune story on Oct. 17, current Auditor Jan Shabro said her “office won’t pick up the cost [of postage] this year because of budget cuts.”

Anderson said voter outreach and education about the postage issue should have been the primary concern of the Auditor. “This problem should have been anticipated and was easily avoidable,” she said. “If the fund was not used to pay for voters’ return postage, the instructions to them should have been crystal clear: two stamps.”

Anderson contends that in an anticipated low turnout election, $75,000 from the dedicated postal fund should be sufficient to purchase business reply envelopes and eliminate voter confusion as to how much postage is needed.

“Apparently, the cost of democracy is 17 cents,” Anderson said. “Everyone understands one stamp, two stamps. But not everyone will understand Shabro’s vague and contradictory instructions about the amount of extra postage needed.”

“Decisions that voters will have to make on this ballot are difficult enough,” Anderson said. “They shouldn’t have to worry about whether their ballots will be received and votes counted.”


Candidates from races in Tacoma and surrounding cities plan to gather on 38th St. & Pine St. in Tacoma at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20, to advertise that ballot returns require two stamps. A press event in front of the Pierce County Elections Center will follow at 4 p.m.

Breakout box:

Many phrases were used to describe the extra postage requirement in the election materials sent to voters:

  • The ballot return envelope and informational insert state that “additional postage is required.”
  • The stamp placement box includes the phrase, “requires additional first class postage.”
  • Page two of the Voters’ Pamphlet indicates an “estimated 61 cents” is needed to return a completed absentee ballot.
  • Page four of the Voter’s Pamphlet states “61 cents is an estimated minimum amount” of the postage required.
  • Page 18 defines proper postage as “approximately 61 cents.”

Page 13, “Five Simple Steps to Make Sure Your Vote Counts,” has no mention of the special postage requirements.

Leave a comment Comments → 29
  1. If any race has a clear better candidate, it is this one. Jan Shabro has messed up everything from ballot postage to using ballot materials to promote her name. She is a partisan in a non-partisan office, appointed by her partisan Republican friends on the county council.

  2. anders_ibsen says:

    Thanks for taking this issue on, Julie. We need competent, independent leaders in charge of county government – not partisan hacks.

  3. Freeagent says:

    It appears now that we must pay to vote. This looks to be a small issue until it is your vote that is not counted. This is the one office that must have the highest of integrity. Without question this will have an effect on my vote. Mark me down for Julies Anderson. I have been following this race closely and there are a number of issues that have me concerned.
    1, Jan Shabro name in BOLD on the ballot envelops
    2. Jan Shabro being unconcerned with the issue of addition postage
    3. The questionable decisions that Jan has made as the appointed (not elected) auditor.
    Profession accountability. Not with Jan Shabro.

  4. Shabro is deliberately suppressing the vote. Republicans always to better when fewer people vote.

    Lots of people will be getting their ballots returned and their votes won’t be counted – looks like Pierce County has our very own Kathleen Harris or Ken Blackwell (take your pick)!

    There’s also no reason to put your name on the outside of the envelope. The post office knows where the Pierce County Auditor’s office is, and where to deliver ballots. I have never witnessed a more disgusting display of self-promotion using taxpayer money than the unethical actions of Shabro in this election.

    Throw the Republican party hack out on her ear.

  5. Drek2305 says:

    The postage isn’t paying for the vote – it’s paying for convenience. If the .61 cents seems too much then take it in to the auditor’s office and drop it off. It isn’t any different than driving to a polling place.

  6. kenrabbitmiller says:

    The county has an excellent election staff. They’ve been professional thru some tough elections. But their leader, a political appointee, is either making mischief or in over her head. Neither is acceptable.

    Ms Shabro has lots of options but instead she’s frozen like a deer in headlights, hoping her political patrons will bail her out. County staff and county voters deserve better.

  7. derekyoung says:

    I don’t know that I buy the “poll tax” conspiracy, but I know quite a few people who are attentive voters that didn’t notice the extra postage. I suspect this is going to cause unnecessary chaos on election night. Messing up elections seems like a bad way of auditioning for the auditor job.

    If you do have your ballot returned, perhaps you should take a moment to consider asking for a new one if you had originally voted for Shabro.

  8. Postage should never be paid by the government. That being said, the amount of postage needed should be minimized and clearly marked on the envelope.

  9. pcinsider1 says:

    I’d like to hear what Julie Anderson’s true qualifications are to manage the Auditor’s office, and not just read about the things she thinks the current Auditor is doing wrong. The issues she is bringing forward have happened in past elections, when DEMOCRATS were Auditor. They had their name on the ballot envelopes, wrote the introduction to the local voter’s pamphlet, and required that the voter pay the postage to return their vote-by-mail ballot. Why should all taxpayers pay for the convenience of some to vote by mail,when there are numerous drop off locations for the ballots, including all open polling places on election day? I can assure you that Julie Anderson will do EXACTLY the same if she is elected. Lets hear about some REAL issues, Julie, and your solutions to handling them.

  10. favoredandblessed says:

    Hey Julie….FYI…Pierce County CAN’T pay…NO m-o-n-e-y….. Thanks for your input though. Try to focus.

  11. designfreak says:

    I don’t care if prior auditors had their names on the ballot, that is irrelevant – it is time to stop the practice.

    What I want to know is, why every time I log onto the Pierce County Auditor Web site, Ms. Shabro’s image is lording over the main page? If you check the web sites for the other two large counties in the state; King and Spokane, you don’t find images of their auditors.

    What I really want the auditor web site to do is to show me readily and easily how to register to vote or how to change my voter registration. I’ve been there, done that and it really isn’t all that easy. The auditor should be doing everything in their power to increase voter turn-out.

  12. the3rdpigshouse says:

    For all you folks who really believe your vote should count – get off your as# and go to the polling station and vote!! Quit the whining and sniveling about the postage!!!

  13. pcinsider1 says:

    designfreak: Just a couple of points….every elected official in Pierce Co has their photo “lording over” their website, including the Sheriff and current Co Exec, who had their photos on the websites last year when they were running for office. At least Jan isn’t using hers to publish non-public documents and slander her employees, as Dale Washem is doing. But thats another issue….anyway, FYI, King Co. doesn’t have an Auditor, so I guess that why their “auditors” photo isn’t on that website (which doesn’t exist, either). But you’re right, Spokane County doesn’t have a photo of their Auditor on their site, so you get a point for that. And I don’t l know how much easier the elections site could make changing your address or registering to vote, ’cause I visited the site and understood easily how to do both. Time to find some REAL issues in this race.

  14. designfreak says:

    In response to pcinsider1, the King County has an auditor and her name is listed as Cheryle A. Bloom. The position of auditor in King County has different responsibilities than the position of auditor in Pierce County – they actually perform audits. Now if you are talking elections, that is a different site altogether and they don’t have a photo of their leader on the front page of the site either.

    I was not paying close attention as there are TWO photos of Ms. Shabro on the first page of the website, what’s up with that? Yes, the other Pierce County web sites have pictures in the corner also – I give you a point there and maybe Pierce County just needs a new web page designer. Between the two photos and the Auditor’s name on the ballot, it just feels like someone trying to prove their self-importance – more about them and less about the people they serve.

    The first page of the auditor’s site should have a tab labeled “Voter Registration,” not “About the Auditors Office” or “Elections” as does the Pierce County site. A person should not have to search beyond the first page to find a path to voter registration. I believe that recruiting new people to vote and maintaining the existing voting base is pretty darn important and it goes beyond speaking to elementary school children.

  15. So Pierce County complaining about the .61 cents, but refusing to give up the polling stations. The county needs to decide. You cant have both. The money isnt there and I think this is a strong fiscal move by Shabro to not provide it. If you dont like the .61 then go to a polling station or drop it off at one of the many booths. Quit whining. You sound like a bunch of Acorn supporters that just lost their federal funding. Ooops

  16. Freeagent says:

    Let’s talk about professional accountability. Let’s talk about administrative skills. Let’s talk about open communications. How about an Auditor that is first about the people it serves. This is not about .61 cents it is about not communicating to the people of PC about what they need to do. If you clearly and directly announced that the additional postage was required fine. This was not done. If you cannot communicate that fact as simple as it may appear how about other issues?
    Leadership is another issue let’s talk about that. Julies Anderson has been a voice for all groups on the Tacoma City council. Accountability and professionalism is what we need in government. Honesty and a straight forward approach. To me Julies Anderson has all of this and more.

  17. pcinsider1 says:

    designfreak: King County does not have an elected Auditor, they have an accounting employee who is called an “auditor”, and they don’t have an Auditor’s website, duh, because they don’t have an Auditor. And why would elections information have to be on the first page of the PC Auditor’s website – do you think that the ONLY department within the Auditor’s office? Guess what? Although elections are important to people once or twice a year, hundreds of customers each month use the other services of the office — to purchase license tabs, transfer their car title, get a marraige license, apply for their passport, report their neighbors killer pit bull (if in unincorporated PC), and so on. If you ever purchased a house in our county, you didn’t get those keys until at least two areas of the office processed your paper work, resulting in the recording number that you and your lender were waiting for. The Auditor’s responsibilities extend far beyond the “extra postage” issue, and Jan Shabro has done a great job in managing the office this past year — just ask some of her employees. And regarding the postage issue, those that don’t want to pay the postage on their vote-by-mail ballot shouldn’t have REQUESTED one — they have to ASK to vote by mail unless they are in a precinct that does not have a polling place (and where the ballots are paid for by the county, such as Anderson Island). And there is no need to pay postage at all, as the website provides a number of drop off locations, including the Election Center and Pierce County Annex; ballots can also be dropped off at any precinct on election day. So no one really has to pay anything in postage if they’d rather spend it on gas. Seems like a lot of whining over a few cents when people risk their lives to vote in other countries.
    Guess Julie and her followers will do anything, credible or not, to get those votes!

  18. ldozy1234 says:

    Funny, only with Shabro has postage become an issue. Previously the Auditors office has paid the postage difference, last election and before that even. Only Shabro refuses to. As little as McCarthy has impressed me, at least she didn’t decide votes were garbage if postage wasn’t enough.
    The budget excuse doesn’t pass muster. Once Shabro deliberately FAILED to duly and in a timely manner inform PC govt. of her decision, it became a perfect example of what PC voters can expect if she is actually elected. Either she was too busy campaigning or too unsuited for the job to even handle the postage issue correctly.
    It’s not even about the postage. It’s about her absolute failure to notify people and insure that the ballot information clearly reflects this. It’s fishy when you can remember to use large font for your name in various spots but can’t do this for things that actually are important.
    Guys, she only got the job because of political buddies here giving her the appointment over a significantly more qualified candidate and this is the result.
    TNT: What is Sam Reed or even PC Council or the 5 Member Exec’s response to this? Why aren’t you all calling them for information to report back to us?

  19. ldozy1234 says:

    And WHY do we even have to have the current Auditors name on the envelope? Why can’t it just be addressed to the Auditor- period- no free campaign ad? That would also cut costs since we wouldn’t have to change it for every new elected or in this case just a temp. appointed Auditor.
    I think this needs to be changed. Campaign on your own flippin’ personally paid for envelope – not on the one I have to pay MY 65 cents.

  20. wollochetkayak says:

    Lesson from Political Science 101:
    Turnout low, Republicans win. Turnout high, Democrats win.
    Shabro is a Republican so she is trying to keep turnout as low as possible.

  21. Thats a dumb argument since most absentee’s favor republicans. Get a clue. As for the postage, geez, find a real issue to argue for Anderson, if postage and envelopes are the only nit pick, then Anderson has already lost. Where are real and issues of substance against Shabro? I have not heard one yet other than the above items.

  22. pcinsider1 says:

    I agree with Exidor — Julie, find a REAL issue to bring forward in this race. When Pat McCarthy was Auditor the Co, paid for postage on two races, but not on the others. Postage isn’t the real issue here — its just something that Julie can grab on to because Jan has done a good job of running the Auditor’s office since being appointed. Get over it….voters who want the convenince of voting at home and mailing their ballot can pay for the privlege — why should I?? They can go to the polls or to a drop box for the price of gas.

  23. kamieniecki says:

    There is a much more important item that all voters need to pay attention to…we could find ourselves with another Dale Washam in the one and only Will Baker if we don’t take care in filling out our ballots…all other demons of postage and pictures that Shabro and Anderson might bring to the office pale in comparison should Baker be elected…

  24. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    Right, find a real issue to argue for Anderson. She has clawed her way to the top. She flops on the commuter train issues like the berm / beam issue. She now wants to change fields (agian, after again) now from Tacoma to Pierce County. She has worked nowhere for 5 years at a crack. Maybe the real issue is job shopping and, therefore, no committment.

    Shabro is what she is.

  25. PrincipalSkinner says:

    Shabro has no idea what she’s doing.

  26. klthompson says:

    I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have to put postage on an absentee ballot. I have lived in both Pierce and Kitsap Counties. Glad to see that nothing has changed in Pierce County politics. Really juvenile.

  27. On Wednesday, I attended the debate between Julie Anderson and Jan Shabro and want to comment on “nonpartisanship.” Julie Anderson is an admitted Democrat; Jan Shabro is an admitted Republican. The issue in a non-partisan race is not whether the candidate is politically neutral, but whether he or she will run the office in a non-partisan way. In Julie Anderson’s five years on the non-partisan Tacoma City Council, there has never been a hint of her pushing party politics. Shabro has been the appointed Auditor of the Republican County Council for ten months. In that time she has appointed as her chief deputy the Chairman of the Pierce County Republican Party. He since has formed a political action committee to elect Republicans to office. Jan Shabro has contributed to that committee. Which candidate do you think will run the office of Auditor without regard to party politics? It’s a no-brainer. Vote for Julie and #1 and no need to vote for #2 or #3.

  28. retired81 says:

    It wreaks of poll tax.

  29. pcinsider1 says:

    jlmlaw: Julie and supporters keep harping on the fact the Jan hired Deryl McCarty, a Republican, to be her deputy. Duh! Is she supposed to hire someone she doesn’t know and who doesn’t share her values, etc? Have past Auditor’s done that? NO! At least this Deputy Auditor is actually IN the office every day and involved in the day to day activities of the employees and customers — the last deputy (who went with McCarthy to the exec’s office) was rarely in the office and had no administrative function there. She primarily just followed McCarthy around the county and kept her company at the Election Center, where the really important work went on. And Deryl McCarty has taken a smaller salary than that appointee, and will decline the county’s medical benefit package and take 52 furlough days next year if Shabro is elected. I doubt the Julie’s “appointed deputy” will do the same, and I assume they will know Julie pretty well and also be a “D”.

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