Funding has been secured for statewide ballot return postage in the 2018 primary and general elections, Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of State Kim Wyman recently announced.

“More voter participation makes for a stronger democracy. Because Washington is a vote-by-mail state, pre-paid postage is one important way we can reduce barriers to casting ballots,” Inslee said. “We’ll be working with legislators to secure ongoing funding, establish a permanent statewide program, and ensure King County is reimbursed for their proactive work on this effort.”

After King County adopted an ordinance to pay for ballot return postage last week, Wyman called on Gov. Inslee to see if funding could be provided for ballot postage in all counties across the state. Inslee’s office contributed $600,000, and Wyman’s office then matched that amount. Paying for return postage in all 39 counties will cost an estimated $1.8 million. The funds will be administered as grants to all counties that choose to provide pre-paid ballot return postage to voters.

“This is about leveling the playing field and making elections equal for all citizens of Washington state,” said Wyman. “I want to thank the governor for his collaboration, and I look forward to working with him to get a bill passed in 2019 to make Washington the first state in America with permanent universal postage-paid voting by mail.”

596 offices are up for election in the upcoming cycle. Washington’s 2018 primary is scheduled for Aug. 7. The general election will occur on Nov. 6.