Washington will become the second state in the nation to have all vote-by-mail elections under a bill that Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law this afternoon.
Senate Bill 5124, will replace a 2005 law that let all counties choose whether to have polling places or mail-in ballots, a move supporters say will add clarity to state law and save money, but opponents say isn’t fair to Pierce county, the only Washington county to still have in-person voting.
“It’s a good day,” said Rep. Sam Hunt, who has sponsored similar legislation every year since 2008. “It will give us one uniform voting system in the state.”
Secretary of State Sam Reed, said he had been a long-time supporter of bills to increase voting by mail in Washington, and it didn’t make sense for his office to have to provide special outreach about in-person polling in Pierce County because so few people use it.
Reed said he had found mail-in ballots to increase voter participation, save money and give people time to do their research about the things they’re voting for.
The Pierce County Council has resisted proposals to shift to all-mail voting in the past, though, and Roger Bush, the council chairman, was disappointed with the Legislature’s decision to pass the bill.
His assistant, Karen Castillo, said Bush was unavailable for comment, but he left a statement with her saying that he thought it was hypocritical of democratic state legislators preach free choice and then take it away because Pierce County decided to keep a system they didn’t like.