Pierce Council still hearts polling places

Pierce Council still hearts polling places

pollsiteAlthough 99 percent of this year’s voters cast ballots by mail, Pierce County apparently will remain the state’s last holdout for  poll-site voting.

The County Council has ordered newly elected County Auditor Julie Anderson to continue operating polling places, the News Tribune reports, but has de-funded it, meaning she’ll have to figure out how to cover the $150,000 cost out of her agency budget.  About a tenth of this year’s Pierce County voters, or less than 18,000, went to a polling place on Election Day, rather than joining the vast majority of their neighbors who have signed up as permanent vote-by-mail voters.

All 38 other counties, most recently King County, have switched entirely to vote-by-mail, using a local-option law passed by the Legislature.  Both the County Auditor and the County Council or Commission must agree before the change can occur.  The Legislature has considered, but not passed, a bill requiring Pierce to go vote-by-mail. It’s not expected to pass next winter unless well-placed opponents like Senate President Pro Tem Rosa Franklin of Tacoma, remove their holdIn a way, it’s no longer a big deal.  Most Washington voters themselves chose to switch during the past decade and then their home counties went to all-mail voting, hoping to save a little money and increase participation.  Accordingly, statewide, an estimated 99 percent of the 2009 General Election vote was cast by mail or at a county drop-off site.

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