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Pre-paid ballots may come to more King County mailboxes

This ballot's stamp game is on point.
King County wants to reduce any barrier to voting and is experimenting with pre-paid postage for envelopes.

An experiment to make voting easier in King County was a success.

King County elections officials included pre-paid postage on all ballots during the small, special election in February. That election included issues only in Maple Valley and Shoreline.

Officials wanted to run a trial program in case the postage caused any problems. They worried pre-paid mail would not get a postmark right away, which could cause ballots to miss the postmark deadline.

Read: In last fall's election, KUOW discovered that, no, you don't need a stamp for your ballot

But there was no postmark delay, and election staff want to try pre-paid postage again.

"We are hoping to maybe pilot it again this spring with a special election in April," said Nate Valderas, a King County Elections operating manager. "Going forward with larger elections, that would be a question that the director would have to work on with the county council and probably the secretary of state as well."

Valderas said his department may need state or King County Council approval to expand the program because of the cost. The county paid about $10,000 in postage during the small trial.

Valderas said voter turnout was higher than expected in the February election, but they can't attribute that entirely to the postage change.

He says pre-paid postage is one way the office is trying to remove barriers to voting. It lowers the cost by not requiring people to provide stamps and saves people a trip to a postal office or ballot drop box, especially if those are out of the way.