Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman hit the bull’s-eye when she asked Gov. Jay Inslee for emergency spending authority to implement prepaid postage ballots statewide in this year’s elections.
The fact is King County — with a population of well over 2 million and about 30 percent of the state’s residents — is on the verge of paying for stamps so its voters can mail in their ballots for free.
If this occurs, this will add even more political clout to King County’s electorate. It will create an uneven playing field for the rest of the state — and that’s just not right.
Wyman, who testified before the King County Council on Monday, said all voters in Washington should have the same access to the ballot box. The Council is considering an ordinance that would provide prepaid postage for voters only in King County.
“When it comes to prepaid postage, I believe two components are necessary,” said Wyman, a Republican. “One, that it be implemented statewide, and two, that it cover every election. We have to treat every voter in the state fairly and equally, and do everything we can to avoid confusing voters.”
Wyman added that only a few large counties can afford to fund prepaid postage on ballots and that Seattle’s large media market will also cause confusion among voters about whether their ballot’s postage has been covered.
“This decision should not be made in a vacuum because the impacts will not remain in a vacuum,” Wyman said. “The reality is, while this decision may appear to only affect King County voters, it has a statewide impact on the remaining counties.”
Wyman is correct. Unfortunately, it’s too late for the Legislature to approve the funding before the August Primary Election and the November General Election. Therefore, seeking approval of emergency spending from Inslee makes sense.
And while Wyman asked King County to postpone enacting its ordinance OKing prepaid ballots, that isn’t something she or any state official can control. It would be best if King County put its plan on hold until the state can come up with a plan for all 39 counties.
Ultimately, we see providing prepaid postage is a concept worth considering statewide.
The $1 million-plus cost could be worth it to boost voting a few percentage points.