68 cents? Your ballot wants to be free

68 cents? Your ballot wants to be free

Free ballot

Blame it on initiative overload. This year’s November ballot is extraordinarily large — so big that it will cost 68 cents to mail. You could buy half a doughnut with that kind of cash.

Sixty-eight cents won’t put anyone in the poorhouse, but it does raise a question of principle. Voting is a basic exercise of citizenship, so why should people pay to take part?

No, you don’t necessarily have to pay. If you don’t want to spring for stamps, you can take your ballot to the nearest drop-off site, but driving there could easily cost 68 cents worth of gas. And that’s easier said than done for some of our senior citizens, disabled people and others who have trouble getting around.

In our latest poll at HeraldNet.com and on Twitter, we asked whether the government should pick up the tab. Sixty-five percent said it should, which is exactly what the county elections office has been quietly doing for years on ballots with insufficient postage.

But if no one put stamps on their ballots, it gets expensive enough for the county government to notice, so officials would still like you to pony up. If we really want mail-in voting to be free, we need the state to pay for it — an idea that both parties’ candidates for Secretary of State support.

What would that cost? In the 2012 presidential election, a little over 3 million people returned their ballots in the state. If the same number did this year and the government paid 68 cents a pop, that would cost taxpayers $2 million. Then there’s the primary and other special elections that arise. In a busy year, every taxpayer would chip in a dollar or so. You could buy everyone a whole doughnut with that kind of cash.

Democracy might not always taste as good as a doughnut, but it’s a better investment in the long run.

— Doug Parry: parryracer@gmail.com; @parryracer

Archbishop Murphy’s football team is so dominant that other 2A schools are forfeiting games. What’s the best long-term solution?

❏ Murphy and other schools should stop recruiting students based on football talent

❏ Other schools should try to compete

❏ Murphy should play in 3A or 4A, even though it’s a smaller school

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