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Tue., Jan. 29, 2013, 10:36 a.m.

WA Lege Day 16: Stamping out the vote?

OLYMPIA -- College students want to vote, student lobbyists told legislators today, they really do.But some don't because they just don't have a stamp to put on their mail-in envelope.

And at least one University of Washington student said he didn't even know where to get a stamp

"I don't know where the local post office is," Lucas Barash-David told the House Government Operations Committee, which was discussing a bill that would require state and local governments to pay the costs of postage for returning mail-in ballots.

David was among lobbyists for student organizations supporting prepaid envelopes for returning ballots. Requiring them to come up with a stamp was a barrier akin to a poll tax, Gabriel Bowman of University of Washington-Tacoma, said. Well, maybe a smaller barrier than a poll tax, Bowman added, but "we don't think there should be any barriers."

David, who lobbies for the UW students' association, went even further. "We don't use stamps." They don't send letters, they call, text or send e-mails.

All counties have drop boxes, where ballots can be deposited without stamps, but not all of them are on or near campuses, student representatives said. They' might not know where they are; they might be too busy to make the detour to the drop box on their commute to or from campus.

Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, said he found it hard to believe college students couldn't quickly find the location of the nearest drop box. "Students do research on other things out there," Buys said, going on the Internet and using Google maps to find the location of the closest coffee house or bar.

The Washington Secretary of State's office does have a page that lists all the drop boxes in the state, and a partnership with Google maps  and Microsoft to make those boxes easy to find.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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