Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Better chance this time for vote-by-mail, supporters say

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm with 7 Comments »
January 12, 2011 4:11 pm

Olympia Rep. Sam Hunt says he thinks the odds are better this year for his renewed attempt to make the whole state vote by mail. Elections officials in Secretary of State Sam Reed‘s office, too, are optimistic the effort will succeed.

The practical effects of an all-mail switch would be felt only in Pierce County. The other 38 counties in the state already vote entirely by mail, while Pierce County hangs on to polling places for the minority of voters who don’t want to mail their ballots.

In November, roughly 29,000 votes came from poll sites, nearly 11 percent of those cast in the county.

Tacoma freshman Reps. Connie Ladenburg and Laurie Jinkins have signed on to Hunt’s bill, and several other House Democrats support the idea. Past all-mail bills have cruised through the House but gotten bottled up in the Senate.

Last year, a bill by Hunt made it out of a key Senate committee but was blocked after objections from Pierce County senators including Democratic Sen. Rosa Franklin.

Sen. Steve Conway, a Tacoma Democrat who replaced the retiring Franklin, said he would oppose it, but said it’s too soon to say if he would try to keep it from coming to a vote.

“To me, our county will come to this decision on their own like all the other counties have,” Conway said. “When we’re the only county that hasn’t chosen this, I don’t really appreciate a bill trying to mandate it.”

Pierce County’s top elections official wants her county to join the rest. County Auditor Julie Anderson testified today in support of Hunt’s bill.

Anderson mainly points to the low turnout. But she reminded lawmakers poll sites also cost money. Eliminating them for the 2012 elections would save at least $80,000, she said, and that doesn’t count upcoming costs of hiring translators at polling places.

The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to require Pierce County to provide Spanish and possibly Korean speakers in 2012, she said. “Implementing that in a presidential election year is going to be a major challenge, especially if we’re the only county doing it and we’re doing it alone,” she told legislators.

The County Council, of course, has authority to switch the county to all-mail voting. But the Republican-led council has supported polling places in the past.

Republican Reed said remaining poll voters get confused when they see messages on Seattle television stations reminding them to check their mail for their ballots.

“People are not voting, because they don’t understand it,” he said.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. hortonpeak says:

    Well, since Pierce county, or at least parts of Pierce county are only now getting into the the 20th Century but then some parts are going back to the middle ages it will all be ok. Oh, this made no sense at all much like Jordan’s post. Cheers.

  2. mattersnot1 says:

    The only reason they want all mail-in balloting is so they can get their hands on your ballots before they’re submitted to a computer.
    Pierce County is holding a 29,000 lb hammer over elections both in County and Statewide.
    Don’t forget Chrissy only beat Rossi by 120+ votes statewide.
    You don’t think election departments are substituting your ballot with one of their own? Find out how many ballots were printed, then how many unused ballots they have left after the election. This would be a nice little mission for the Trib.

  3. mattersnot1 says:

    Hey Julie,
    Tell us how much the taxpayers are paying for your 297 employees, most of which are used in the election dept. The election dept never used to need so many employees before mail-in balloting.
    Vote at the polls folks and save yourself a ton of money. Plus, look at the power it gives you.

  4. I’ve said it before, but voting shouldn’t cost money even if it is just 44 cents or the occasional additional cost due to the weight of extra ballots.

    Also, when I go to a polling location, I know they have my ballot. There are no drop off boxes that are convenient for me. And on top of that they put a drop off location at the annex and another at the county elections office, 500 feet from the annex. But they won’t put one in my neighborhood.

  5. Copper2Steel says:

    It baffles me that there’s so much fuss about closing polling locations, but change always stirs up fears.

    Voting by mail is SO easy.

    Some jurisdictions don’t even charge postage for ballots, so maybe that can be an option here in Pierce County?

    Drop off boxes and volunteer-staffed drop-off locations are convenient, but yes, not ALL neighborhoods have their own dedicated drop-off point (unless you count your own mailbox!). Perhaps if we closed polls, there could be some more boxes or staffed, temporary drop-off locations?

  6. Every time a vote is cast by mail, Baby Jesus cries. True story.

  7. mattersnot1 says:

    What makes you think the people staffing the drop off locations are volunteers?

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0