Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Jerry Jones
Gazette Editor 

Hey, thanks for voting freebie


Last Tuesday, three days before ballots for the primary election hit the mail, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman brightened the news keyboards with word that for the first time voters will be able to cast their ballots and return them through the U.S. Postal Service without having to ante up the cost of a stamp.

The second sentence of Wyman's report expresses thanks to Kim Wyman, Gov. Jay Inslee and county officials statewide.

The new "no postage" ballot return somehow suggests all those state and county officials around the state believe there's would-be voters out there who shun the election process because they are unable to pony up a couple of quarters.

Wyman reported she and Gov. Inslee announced an "historic agreement" to fund ballot returns this year with $1.2 million in grants.

Wait a minute. Where did they get the $1.2 million?

Wyman in her report added that she will ask the legislature in 2019 to make the free ballot funding permanent. The legislators will have to find the next $1.2 million. It will probably come from the people who this week are checking spending options after saving those ballot quarters.

Jim Repp of Colfax, retired county auditor, can remember when voting in Whiman County was done at 91 precincts which were staffed by poll workers who were paid, by law, at $2.10 an hour. The precinct number shrank to 54 when the system converted to punch cards.

The ballots, and later the cards, were locked up in metal boxes for each precinct after the polls closed and taken to the auditor's office for the election night count. In big elections it sometimes continued past midnight, but the count was out and the election was done.

No stamps, no voting machines, no computer programming, no waiting a week. No news releases from the Secretary of State thanking the Secretary of State.

Repp reported he has already voted. He took his ballot down to the elections office and dropped it in the deposit box.

"They said thanks for voting, " he reported.


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