The Washington State Senate voted today to increase access to democracy by requiring prepaid postage for ballot envelopes during all elections. Sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center), Senate Bill 5063 is the latest effort to eliminate barriers to participation in Washington elections.

“This bill is a huge step forward in making Washington elections fairer and more accessible for everyone in the state,” said Nguyen. “For most people, the idea that you would have to pay to return your ballot, even if that only means a stamp, just doesn’t sit right. Passing this legislation removes that question and brings everyone to the table.”

While both ballot drop boxes and prepaid postage are crucial to voter participation, an analysis by the King County Elections department found that more voters took advantage of prepaid postage in 2018. The digital age has dramatically reduced, and even eliminated, the need for postage stamps for many Washingtonians.

By removing this barrier to democracy, prepaid postage will allow everyone an equal and easy means of submitting their vote by Election Day.

Washington authorized prepaid postage on a one time basis for the 2018 midterm elections and Nguyen is optimistic that expanding the practice statewide on a permanent basis will increase participation

“I think we are stronger as individuals and communities when we all have access to voting and are a part of the process,” Nguyen said. “I also want to thank Sen. Bob Hasegawa for his years championing this legislation. We could not have accomplished this without his leadership and vision.”

Having passed the Senate on a 42-3 vote, the bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.