September 11, 2006
Mail Ballot Horror Show (XI): Postage issues

Reader Greg e-mails:

Just sent in my forced mail-in ballot for Snohomish County Primary.

Because I had to place a stamp on it I took it to the Post Office where I had to pay $0.60 cents for postage - not the $0.39 of a regular stamp. The woman there that including the 'security envelope' pushed the weight above the limit.

I have to wonder if any ballots will be returned for Insufficient postage.

Snohomish County voters who do not appreciate being forced to vote by mail can still vote in person. Details here.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at September 11, 2006 11:00 AM | Email This
1. More on the overweight ballots in Snohomish County here:

Looks like the only way you should have to pay for the increase in postage is if you mail it at a postal counter. Otherwise just affix a first class stamp and send it in. Doesn't sound like any ballots are being returned to sender.

Posted by: Eric Earling on September 11, 2006 11:09 AM
2. yep--first thing i noticed; also, it's re-sized so it will not fit into, say, a more confidential 6x9 envelope; how many more 'return to senders' will throw the (assumed accurate) count;

most private business envelopes will have a 'more postage' warning at the stamp area--but not our keen elections people--and you can bet they knew when the proofs/samples came in from the printer; no one thought to check the mailing weight? my arse!

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on September 11, 2006 11:12 AM
3. I just checked with the site, and the rate from my zip code, 98023, to King County Administration, 98104, for even a tad over one ounce is shown as $.63.

First-Class Mail Rates

First ounce $0.39
Each additional ounce $0.24

Adds up to $.63, or $1.26 for a typical household of two eligible voters. That's nearly the cost of a half-gallon of gas to use to drive to the poll site.

The elections directors in all counties should alert their voters as to the required postage for mailing their ballots.

Posted by: Marilyn on September 11, 2006 11:35 AM
4. We should use the "This is a Poll Tax" argument that is so successful at getting 'Real ID' requirements invalidated elsewhere. Even places where the ID is free upon request. (GA I think?)

Posted by: Al on September 11, 2006 11:41 AM
5. To the dufus(es) that worked on the new resized voting packet that did not warn the public about additional postage:

I'll bet your relatives or friends knew enough to weigh their wedding invitations for sufficient postage & get that right;

wait--this is liberal WA--forget the "wedding" reference; change it to shack-up, stack-up, co-hab or something gender-neutral and pc-inclusive;

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on September 11, 2006 12:14 PM
6. Why should I have to PAY to vote? I thought it was a RIGHT.

Posted by: Patrick on September 11, 2006 01:39 PM
7. The least King County could do is put a postage paid return envelope in the pack. If the King County Exec can ask to have his office in a taj mahal location, and the mayor can have a paid driver and drive a new luxury vehicle every year, one would think they could afford a stamp on a voters ballot.

What a load O' Crap.

Posted by: GS on September 11, 2006 03:19 PM
8. Only a 1/3 to 1/2 of the voters vote in an off-year election.

Posted by: swatter on September 11, 2006 03:25 PM
9. It SHOULD be a postage-paid return envelope. There is a lot of principle in not having to PAY to exercise a fundamental constitutional right. It would be different if we still had polling places and voting by mail was merely a convenience.

Posted by: Richard Pope on September 11, 2006 03:27 PM
10. I called Snohomish County Elections and they said they are picking up the tab for the extra postage, just use a 39 cent stamp. I believe that means us taxpayers are picking up the tab for the extra postage. They say they have cleared this with the post office so nothing will be returned. Yeah, okay, I think I will just drop mine off, thank you very much.
I wonder how many people will pay the extra postage?
And just how much is is going to cost us taxpayers, at 23 cents a pop, to pay for someone's incompetence? Is this going to be corrected by the next election? Is this poor decision making going to be noted in someone's personnel file? How about some accountability where it counts.

Posted by: CommonSense Coug on September 11, 2006 04:28 PM
11. CommonSense--yep--suppose you worked for a small dry cleaner or sandwich shop or hair dresser--

now, you tell your boss/manager/owner that YOU handled the recent flyer 'mailout' and ALL the 100's or 1000's of mailers are screwed up;

what do you think the FIRST thing is that you will hear the next day on your arrival?

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on September 11, 2006 05:04 PM
12. I agree with many of the people hear about how even having to pay postage to begin with could be considered a poll tax. Is it not the Dem's who always claim that any type of expense to a voter only hurts the low income who can barely afford the basic needs?

Posted by: TrueSoldier on September 11, 2006 06:54 PM
13. I have to agree. Being required to pay for postage in order to vote is a poll-tax, and unconstitutional. Since one of the excuses for mail-only is that it saves money, why not take some of that savings and spring for a "Business Reply" permit from the post office? (You only pay for the items received, although it does cost more than simple postage.)

(And who pays in Oregon? the voter or the gov't?)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega on September 12, 2006 08:39 AM
14. Another subversive thought:

What happens if you dump your ballot in the mailbox without a return address and without postage? Will the county pick up the full $0.63? Or will it get dumped, thus denying a person their constitutional right to vote?

Maybe someone could fully document such an attempt and use it in a court case to challenge the postage poll tax requirement for voting.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega on September 12, 2006 08:41 AM
15. In the "Whatcom County, Washington Instructions to Voters", the first paragraph stipulates in bold type that the required postage is thirty nine cents.

Posted by: David Onkels on September 12, 2006 12:40 PM