Washington Secretary of state issues new postage rule for ballots

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has issued an emergency rule change that requires county officials to use first-class mail at least 15 days before Election Day when sending ballots to voters in October.

Wyman, a Republican, announced Wednesday that she was working in coordination with the state’s 39 county election officials. The move follows a national outcry over service changes at the U.S. Postal Service that were announced — and then halted — by President Donald Trump’s new postmaster general that sparked state lawsuits over concerns of a disruption to the November election.

By law, ballots must be sent to voters no later than Oct. 16, with the initial mailing sent at a nonprofit bulk rate, which guarantees a delivery time between three and 10 days. Under the new rule, at least 15 days prior to the election, any replacement ballots or ballots for newly registered voters would be mailed with first-class postage, with a delivery window between two and five days.

“Closer to Election Day, many counties throughout Washington already switch over to First Class mail to ensure voters receive materials with enough time to cast their ballots,” Wyman said in a written statement. “This will provide more consistency statewide, and give voters some peace of mind heading into the Nov. 3 General Election.”

Return envelopes included in the ballot packets sent to voters contain prepaid first-class postage and must be postmarked no later than Election Day. Voters can also drop their ballots in drop boxes across the state.