By Doug Esser Associated Press
SEATTLE — As more than 3 million Washington voters finish filling out their ballots in the state’s first presidential all-mail election, some should put two stamps on envelopes in counties where the ballot weighs more than an ounce.
But don’t worry if the postage is short; the Postal Service always delivers.
Kitsap County ballots, for example, need two stamps. Its counting equipment requires heavier paper stock, said Auditor Walter Washington.
If two stamps are a problem for voters, they can leave ballots in drop boxes, he said.
All 39 counties have a least two drop boxes, said Sheryl Moss, certification and training program manager in the Elections Division of the secretary of state’s office.
Ballots vary by county and the state leaves it up to counties to deal with the post office, she said.
“We will deliver to every election office whether they have sufficient postage or not,” said Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson. “They will make up the difference.”
Postage-due ballots are not returned to sender. It’s a secret officials don’t like to talk about.
“Election officials don’t like us to mention that,” Swanson said.
Counties can’t afford to pay for mailing ballots without voters’ help. At the projected ballot return of 81 percent for 3.9 million register voters, the 45-cent stamps will add up to more than $1.4 million.
“It could become quite expensive,” said Moss. “It’s not something they would want to be put out there.”
But it hasn’t been a big issue. “Up to this point I haven’t heard this is a big problem,” she said.
In King County, which includes Seattle and accounts for about one-third of the votes in the Washington, a single stamp is sufficient postage.
Ballots that require two stamps should have that information in the voting information from the county, Moss said.
In any case, voters should be confident a stamp doesn’t stand in their way, said Kitsap Auditor Washington, who also is president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors.
“I can assure you, however, that ALL counties have a level of comfort that all voters will be afforded the ability to cast their ballots timely and have them counted,” he said by email in response to a question.
Counties mailed out ballots this week. Voters can fill them out and return them any time up to the Nov. 6 postmark deadline.