Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial Board

Washington state, which experimented with providing postage-paid return envelopes for ballots at last year’s General Election (mostly because King County forced its hand by funding its county’s postage), will provide free postage for future elections starting July 1. It’s a wise move.

A variety of factors resulted in last November’s election having a strong turnout, including races that were hotly contested. It’s not clear many more folks voted because of free stamps. Yet, there were probably a few. And the more folks who vote, the better it is for our representative government.

But the most important reason to continue statewide funding of ballot postage is to ensure elections are conducted uniformly across the state.

Before the election, King County approved a plan to pay postage for its voters. If King County had been the only county to pay postage, it would have given that county — and its 1.2 million registered voters — an advantage at election time.

Lawmakers, particularly those outside of King County, were concerned and opted to level the playing field by funding postage. They knew that if the state did not do so, King County would have continued funding its voters’ postage.

The prepaid envelopes cost taxpayers an estimated $1.8 million statewide.

“With prepaid postage, every mailbox is a drop box — so simply drop your ballot-return envelope into the mail before Election Day,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman said in a news release.

Of course, the option of dropping off ballots — and thus saving taxpayers’ postage fees — at drop boxes remains.

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