NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Tina Podlodowski to Snohomish County officials: Act now to protect the right to vote

Edi­tor’s Note: Tina Pod­lodows­ki is one of two final­ists for the posi­tion of Sec­re­tary of State. Today, her cam­paign pub­lished this open let­ter to Sno­homish Coun­ty elect­ed lead­ers, call­ing on them to take imme­di­ate action to pro­tect the right to vote. Request­ed actions include the place­ment of more drop box­es through­out the coun­ty. NPI strong­ly sup­ports this open let­ter and thanks Tina for putting it togeth­er. We are reach­ing out to Kim Wyman’s staff to ask if the incum­bent Sec­re­tary of State agrees with Tina that these actions should be taken. 

Dear elect­ed officials:

We request imme­di­ate action to pro­tect the rights of all Sno­homish Coun­ty vot­ers in the upcom­ing Novem­ber 8th gen­er­al election.

Free and fair elec­tions are vital to the health of any democ­ra­cy and in our democ­ra­cy, your vote is your voice. Sad­ly, the voic­es of some vot­ers will not be heard this year unless we remove seri­ous bar­ri­ers to voting.

On Sep­tem­ber 12th, 2016, the Everett Her­ald report­ed that Sno­homish Coun­ty bal­lots in the Novem­ber 2016 elec­tion will require six­ty-eight cents postage due to the weight of the bal­lot. (Corn­field, Jer­ry: “Longest Bal­lot in 10 Years Will Cost You 68 Cents to Mail.” Everett Her­ald 9/12/2016.)

This news is alarm­ing because Sno­homish Coun­ty does not cur­rent­ly pro­vide an ade­quate num­ber of bal­lot drop box­es to serve the needs of its vot­ers. There are only twelve bal­lot drop-box loca­tions in Sno­homish Coun­ty. By com­par­i­son, there are thir­ty-six bal­lot drop off loca­tions – three times as many – in Pierce Coun­ty, which has about the same num­ber of vot­ers as Sno­homish County.

Even with three times as many drop off loca­tions, vot­ers in Pierce County’s Tillicum vil­lage face bar­ri­ers to both pay­ing for postage or trav­el­ing the ten miles to the near­est drop box, and are strug­gling to get a drop box in their neigh­bor­hood. Clear­ly, with only twelve bal­lot drop-box loca­tions, Sno­homish vot­ers are cur­rent­ly underserved.

Accord­ing to the Sur­vey of Per­for­mance of Amer­i­can Elec­tions and PEW Char­i­ta­ble Trusts, more than thir­ty per­cent of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers who used a bal­lot drop box in the 2014 gen­er­al elec­tion did so because they did not have postage or need­ed to save mon­ey on postage.

Now, these same vot­ers must either find a way to afford two stamps on their bal­lot or make the time to track down one of only twelve drop boxes.

Either of these expen­di­tures could be enough to dis­cour­age many from cast­ing their bal­lot and mak­ing their voice heard.

We ask that you take the fol­low­ing four actions imme­di­ate­ly to rec­ti­fy this problem:

  1. Request fund­ing for an addi­tion­al fif­teen bal­lot drop box­es and/or drop box vans with extend­ed hours, to be installed before Octo­ber 20th in loca­tions deter­mined by pop­u­la­tion den­si­ty, aver­age income, and cur­rent drop box locations.
  2. Devel­op a com­pre­hen­sive out­reach plan to inform vot­ers that two “For­ev­er stamps” or six­ty-eight cents of postage is nec­es­sary to mail back a bal­lot. This infor­ma­tion should be made avail­able in all bal­lot trans­la­tion languages
  3. Work with the Unit­ed States Postal Ser­vice to ensure ade­quate train­ing for postal car­ri­ers is pro­vid­ed about the elec­tion laws and best prac­tices for return­ing all bal­lots, regard­less of postage, to the coun­ty elec­tions office.
  4. Col­lab­o­rate with local com­mu­ni­ty groups through­out the coun­ty to iden­ti­fy oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties for com­mu­ni­ca­tion, engage­ment and ensur­ing all vot­ers are able to cast a bal­lot this November.

Thank you for your atten­tion to this seri­ous mat­ter. Vot­ing rights are the bedrock of our democ­ra­cy and we hope you will take imme­di­ate action to rec­ti­fy this seri­ous threat to your con­stituents’ right to vote.

SIGN ON: Fol­low this link to add your name as a sig­na­to­ry to the open let­ter.

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