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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Pacific NW

Thurston County adopts vote-by-mail

Associated Press

OLYMPIA – Thurston County is joining a growing list of Washington counties with vote-by-mail.

The three Democratic county commissioners unanimously agreed with Republican Auditor Kim Wyman’s recommendation Monday night. The Legislature recently made it easier for counties to make the switch, and 28 of the 39 counties either have made that decision or are considering it, Wyman said.

“I think the best interest for Thurston County is vote-by-mail,” she said during a 90-minute public hearing.

About 70 percent of the county’s voters already are signed up for permanent absentee ballots, and about 75 percent of last fall’s total vote was cast by mail, Wyman said.

The county will operate four drop-off sites for last-minute voters or for those who want the traditional sense of a polling place.

The switch to mail voting should save the county about $300,000 a year, Wyman said. Federal voting laws require that all polling places be handicapped accessible and that at least one electronic voting machine be available for blind and disabled voters.

Commissioner Bob Macleod said many voters love the ritual of voting at a poll site, but that vote-by-mail is cheaper, is widely supported by the public and can be conducted with as much security and integrity as the old system.

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