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Prepaid postage results in highest levels of voter turnout since 2004

Whether it’s paying bills or voting, prepaid postage tends to cause people to actually toss the envelope in the mailbox. That’s certainly been the case with the King County Department of Elections, which reported its highest rate of primary election turnout since 2004, all because of the use of prepaid postage for ballots.

It’s not something KIRO Radio’s John Curley necessarily saw coming.

“I was wrong, I was wrong,” Curley said, who remembered the argument being made at the time this was being proposed.”We need more people to be involved in voting, we want to make sure there’s no barriers for them at all, so you don’t have to necessarily know anything about the candidate, or know anything about the issues.”

RELATED: King County Council disappointed state won’t fund their ballot postage

“But we’ll give you a ballot, and you don’t even have to have a stamp, and you don’t even have to put the stamp on it and take it to the mailbox, we will pay — we, being the citizens — will pay $381,000 to pick up the postage for you, to help increase voter turnout.”

And I said, “Pshaw, that’s never going to work.”

But it did. According the King County, voter turnout was 43.4 percent, higher than the projected 40 percent. The ordinance funding prepaid ballot postage was passed in May and allocated $381,000 for the effort.

What did this cost for each new voter?

“OK, there was an effect,” conceded Curley. “But what was the cost? How many people were so lazy or so cheap that they couldn’t spend 25 cents on a stamp?”

Curley wants to know specifically what this is costing taxpayers.

“How many more people did you get to vote by spending $381,000?” he wondered. “Then you take that number and divide it by the number of people of voting. Then you can say it cost all of us an additional $7 or whatever to get more people to drop in their ballots.”

“I think that you should swallow more crow before you speak, John Curley,” co-host Tom Tangney said.

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