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Eye On Olympia

House votes to make Pierce County — like the rest of the state — vote by mail…

With 38 of Washington’s 39 counties voting almost entirely by mail, Washington’s House of Representatives voted tonight to make it 39.

The House passed HB 1572, to make Pierce County vote by mail as well.

It’s an emotional issue, with proponents saying that it’s expensive and complicated for the county to run poll- and mail voting at the same time. Several local lawmakers, however, argued that poll voting is a hallowed tradition.

“This is absolutely wrong,” Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Roy, said of bill. “…When the people want the right to decide for themselves, let them decide for themselves.”

“I’ve heard all the arguments about how this is a family affair and people like to go to the polls,” said Rep. Sherry Appleton. But mail voting gives people time to look at the voters’ guides, candidate websites and other information to make an informed, deliberative decision, she said.

Longtime poll voter Rep. Dennis Flannigan, D-Tacoma, decided to support the bill in the name of saving money. Until now, “I’ve been a fierce defender of standing in line for 2 1/2 hours” at the polls, he said.

Rep. Jim McCune, R-Graham, said the state telling local people how to vote “is just wrong. It’s not American. It’s just wrong.”

“It’s nothing that’s going to affect you, so if you could just leave this alone, we would appreciate it,” added Rep. Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake.

And Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, drew a guffaw by saying that House Republicans were adamantly opposed to all-mail voting: “Our side of the aisle believes very strongly that females should be allowed to vote also,” he said.

The bill passed 54-43.


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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