OLYMPIA – A bill to require counties to include prepaid postage on return envelopes for primary and general election ballots received a public hearing on Wednesday in Olympia (Senate Bill 5019).

“A stamp is a small thing with a potentially big impact on our democracy,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle. “Our state is mail-in voting only, so this is really essential for voters to have unencumbered access to their basic constitutional right.”

The bill states that return envelopes for primary and general election ballots must include prepaid postage. The state will reimburse counties for the cost incurred.

Because counties only incur costs if the ballots are mailed, they have begun adding ballot drop box locations in recent years. Not all communities have local drop boxes, however, placing those residents at a disadvantage. The cost of this measure is likely to decrease over time as more voters use drop boxes. Hasegawa has introduced the bill in previous session with bipartisan support but Republicans have failed to give the bill a vote.