MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Democrats could sue Pierce County over confusing ballots

Oct 27, 2016, 11:33 AM

Washington State Democrats may sue Pierce County over what they say are confusing mailing instructions on ballots.

Instructions included in ballots from the Pierce County Auditors Office says “Return your ballot early.” A reminder was added to mail the ballots by Nov. 4, The Tacoma News Tribune reports.

Under state law, ballots don’t have to be mailed until Election Day on Nov. 8.

KIRO Radio Voter’s Guide

The News Tribune reports that voters’ pamphlets sent out a week before ballots had similar instructions. Within the pamphlet, however, Pierce County election officials made clear they were simply recommending ballots be mailed four days early to ensure they get postmarked by election day and are counted.

But state Democrats say that the Nov. 4 reference will confuse voters and suppress turnout. The potential lawsuit follows criticism from Tina Podlodowski, Democratic candidate for secretary of state.

Pierce County Assessor Julie Anderson responded by saying the recommendation was based on advice from the U.S. Postal Service.

“There is nothing more heartbreaking for us than to have to mail a voter after the election and say we received your ballot and we couldn’t count it,” she said.

Anderson previously said she doubts there would be much confusion.

“Pierce County voters, they are pretty darn smart,” she said.

Meanwhile, extra-long ballots in three Washington counties will require more than one stamp for voters to mail. The Associated Press reports that extra initiatives in Snohomish, Whatcom, and Douglas counties mean mail-in ballots will take more than one first-class stamp. Ballots can be returned for free in drop boxes.

Ballots were sent to voters across the state last week. In all other counties, the cost to return a ballot is 47 cents, the price of a standard stamp.

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