Legislation to permanently require that ballot return envelopes include prepaid postage is on the the verge of becoming the law of the land in Washington State after the House of Representatives took action tonight on Senator Joe Nguyen’s Substitute Senate Bill 5063, one of NPI’s legislative priorities for 2019.
By a vote of eighty-three to ten, the House sent Nguyen’s bill back to the Senate with amendments for final approval. Most of the chamber’s Republicans joined the House Democratic caucus in supporting the legislation.
The roll call was as follows:
Ballots, prepaid postage
Final Passage as Amended by the House
Yeas: 83; Nays: 10; Excused: 5
Voting Yea: Representatives Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Boehnke, Caldier, Callan, Chambers, Chapman, Cody, Corry, Davis, DeBolt, Doglio, Dolan, Entenman, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Gildon, Goehner, Goodman, Graham, Gregerson, Griffey, Harris, Hoff, Hudgins, Irwin, Jinkins, Kilduff, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Kretz, Leavitt, Lekanoff, Lovick, MacEwen, Macri, Maycumber, Mead, Morgan, Orcutt, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Ramos, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rude, Ryu, Santos, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stanford, Steele, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Sutherland, Tarleton, Thai, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Walen, Walsh, Wylie, Ybarra, Young, Chopp
Voting Nay: Representatives Chandler, Dent, Dufault, Dye, Eslick, Jenkin, Kraft, McCaslin, Shea, Wilcox
Excused: Representatives Appleton, Hansen, Morris, Mosbrucker, Shewmake
Among the Republicans voting nay was J.T. Wilcox, the leader of the House Republican caucus. Most of Wilcox’s caucus, however, opted to support the bill. Prepaid postage for ballot return envelopes is funded in both the House and Senate versions of the 2019–2021 operating budget; SSB 5063 simply changes the law to make prepaid postage on ballot return envelopes mandatory.
We should have eliminated this barrier to voting years ago. Now it’s finally happening and that’s a relief. This is a nice follow-on to last year’s groundbreaking Access to Democracy package. Hopefully, not needing a stamp to return a ballot will foster participation in this year’s local elections.
In 2015 and 2017, Washington set records for the worst general election voter turnout in state history. We don’t want to do that again in 2019.