Pre-paid Ballot Envelopes

Election activities

Vote by mail was a well-received success this past election season. With three states already participating in the mail-only election process, including Colorado, Oregon and Washington, more are considering the option for future election cycles. While the ease of mail-in ballots is a positive benefit for the public, some voters might be unaware of the need to apply the correct postage to the return envelope before depositing election selections into the mail. To alleviate this issue, legislators in one state are seeking a beneficial solution.

Washington Senate Bill 5344, introduced on January 20, is designed to include the costs of primary and general elections as part of the vote by mail process. Legislators hope that by including the cost of postage, more individuals will participate in elections.

Section 1 of the bill states, “The legislature finds that many citizens lack the necessary funds to purchase the necessary postage to return his or her ballot. The legislature further finds that in order to increase participation in our democracy, we must lower all barriers to participation in the democratic process. The legislature finds that voting should be free for all citizens.”

Language in the bill specifies that both primary and general elections are included in the process, but does not indicate if special elections are also included. Whether or not postage-paid return envelopes will add an incentive for voters to return their ballots remains to be seen.

Do you think voter turnout will increase if return envelope postage is pre-paid by the state?

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3 Comments

  1. grannybunny

     /  March 17, 2015

    Yes, participation should definitely improve if the state pre-pays the return postage.

  2. Anonymous

     /  March 18, 2015

    it should be free … like franking privileges 🙂

  3. grannybunny

     /  March 19, 2015

    I agree that voting should be cost-free to the voters. Franking is not free; the postage is just not paid at the time of mailing, but at a later time.

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