County election cost relief may be on the way

Elections are crucial to our system of representative government, but, while ballots cover multiple federal, state, and local candidates and issues, the counties bear the primary costs associated with election funding.

Two bills which will help the public and counties pay for elections will be heard in the Senate Committee on State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections on January 16th.  Senate Bill 5063 would require that prepaid postage on return envelopes be provided for all elections, with county costs for the postage to be reimbursed by the state. Currently, these postage costs are borne by members of the public or the counties directly.

One-time state funding was provided for the 2018 general election, and this bill would make funding ongoing. Senate Bill 5073 would provide even more fiscal relief to counties, requiring the state to reimburse the prorated share of state elections costs to counties for primary and general elections in even-numbered years as well as odd-numbered years (current law provides only for odd-numbered years), and also requiring the state to reimburse counties for the prorated share of federal elections costs to for all primary and general elections.

This is a much more equitable system and would result in significant cost savings (in the form of reimbursements from the state) to counties. The Washington State Association of Counties will be supporting both of these bills.

Paige holds a Masters in Public Administration from Seattle University and a BA from Western Washington University. Paige ran a campaign in Snohomish County before serving as a Legislative Assistant at the Washington House of Representatives. As the External Communications Manager for WSAC, she manages the organization's online presence and offline publications.