OLYMPIA -- The federal government has signed off on Washington state's request for a waiver to the time limit for mailing ballouts to troops and other state voters who are overseas.
The state actually gives those voters more than the 45 days required by federal law to get ballots back because of the way Washington handles mail-in ballots.
The question arises because federal voting laws require states to get ballots to voters at least 45 days before election day, which this year is Sept. 18. Ballots can't be prepared until the results of the August primary are certified on Sept. 7, and nine business days isn't enough to print ballots and prepare packets for some 65,000 military and overseas voters, the state said. Some jurisdications won't have that done before the beginning of October, which is what state law requires.
But the state allows overseas voters to vote by e-mail, so that option is available to overseas and military voters. And unlike most states that rely on mail-in ballots, Washington doesn't require ballots be at the elections office on election day; it only requires they be voted -- that is, marked and mailed, by Nov. 2. Any ballot received up to 21 days afte election day will still be processed and counted.
So Washington really has a 51-day window -- 30 days before the election plus 21 days after it, the state said in requesting it's waiver.
Okey-dokey, the feds said. Several other states which have primaries in August and September weren't so lucky, and have more 'splaining to do before they get waivers.