‘I didn’t have a stamp’ excuse gone: King County approves prepaid postage ballots for 2018 elections

Ever used the excuse “I didn’t have a stamp” as a reason for not voting? Well, it seems that excuse may be disappearing from the ‘Why I Didn’t Vote’ playbook…. at least for 2018.

On Monday May 7, 2018 the King County Council approved legislation allowing the Department of Elections to send voters postage paid envelopes to return their ballots in this year’s primary and general elections.

King County has roughly 1.2 million registered voters and is the largest jurisdiction in the U.S. to conduct all elections by mail. The budget request made by Executive Constantine on behalf of Elections Director, Julie Wise will provide King County voters with prepaid postage on returned ballots for the remainder of this year, starting with the August primary election.

“I am grateful to the Council for their unwavering support in giving me the tools I need to continue removing barriers for our voters. Prepaid postage along with our ballot drop boxes makes it easy for everyone to exercise their civic right to vote,” said Wise

Washington became a vote-by-mail state in 2011. While the Council and King County Elections worked to increase the number

Photo: KC Elections

of ballot drop boxes available to voters throughout the county, approximately half of the ballots received are still sent by mail. Prior to Monday’s action, all voters were personally required to place postage on their ballot.

“This measure puts a ballot box at the end of every driveway, and I’m excited to be a part of its passage,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, Chair of the Council’s Budget Committee and prime sponsor of the legislation.

The U.S. Postal Service will charge King County a rate of 50 cents for each ballot returned by mail. According to KC Elections, in prior to this, when a voter forgot to place on stamp on a ballot, some post offices would send the ballot to King County regardless, but would charge the county $1.70. Other post offices would not forward the ballot at all.

The county expects the  measure to increase voter access and participation. Elections conducted a pilot project over the  winter, sending 65,000 voters in Shoreline and Maple Valley prepaid return envelopes. The percentage of total ballots returned by mail during the pilot was 74-percent, compared to 43-percent participation in the 2016 General Election.

Another co-sponsor of the ordinance, Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles commented, “I’m confident that our action today will result in prepaid postage on ballots being implemented statewide.”

According to King County Elections, this recent move has prompted statewide discussions about prepaid postage.




Comments are closed.


  • This is great news! Citizens should be able to vote as easily as possible.
    I’m 100% for this

  • I’ve heard this will be challenged because it makes voting in King County Different than in all of the other counties in Washington.

  • Going to vote was a celebration of American Republic. If not being able to find a stamp stops a person from voting, what is the value of that idiot’s vote? Unfortunately, the same as mine.

    1. Citizens get to vote because they’re citizens. If a 50 cent stamp is the only thing blocking them, then having a ballot be postage-paid is a very cheap way to ensure more participation.

      We have always encouraged people to vote, and generally do not cast aspersions as to the value of the person’s character, education, or status.

      I’m all for this. It’s a cheap way to get more people to vote.

  • Perhaps the government should provide a pen in case they don’t have one.

  • Spend, spend, spend, and as a perceived liberal I’m totally against this. If one wishes to vote, he or she or he/she will surely figure out a way to make it happen.

  • Snoqualmie has a ballot drop box, outside the library. You don’t need to apply a stamp to use it.

  • It’s a fairly cheap expenditure, and because it’s pre-paid, it’s cheaper than a stamp. We all would pay for a stamp if we could, but this encourages more voters who might not have a stamp handy.
    Really, we’re paying for this already, whether we have our own stamp or the county provides a pre-paid envelope.

  • “A million here, a million there, pretty soon we’re talking real money.” Everett Dirksen. A sarcastic quote about uncontrolled government spending. Just curious, does this pressure other counties to do the same thing?

  • People are going to pay for the stamp one way or another, and paying for it as pre-paid is cheaper over all. Having the envelope with a pre-paid frank means that *more people* can get their ballots to King County without worrying about finding a stamp. Removing friction for voting means more people can vote.

    This is a good thing.

  • “Friction for voting.” A stamp? Or going to a drop box. Beyond belief. Just keep talking. The market place of ideas is at work.

  • The requirements for voting include being a citizen and being older than 17 years. That’s it. (Some states also block felons.)
    If providing a stamp helps citizens vote, I’m all for it.

  • Yep. It’s been that way a long time.
    That’s why I encourage more people to vote, so we can have our say in our republican form of democracy. Everyone has their voice, and our representatives work to include all our voices in their decisions. It’s not a perfect system, but it mostly works.

  • In 2016, King and Snohomish counties crossed a threshold: The two now account for more than 40 percent of the state’s population, with a total of 2.9 million residents. They typically vote Democratic. This will solidify the State as being Democratic controlled even more than the money just spent making sure there was a ballot box within 3 miles of the majority of voters in King County. I am surprised there is no Republican lawsuit blocking this decision or mandating that it be statewide.

  • Living Snoqualmie