As more than 3 million Washington voters finish filling out their ballots in the state's first presidential all-mail election, some -- like those in Franklin County -- should put two stamps on envelopes because the ballot weighs more than an ounce.
But don't worry if the postage is short; the Postal Service always delivers.
Franklin County Auditor Matt Beaton told the Herald that ballots his office mailed require 65 cents for return postage because they have to be printed in English and Spanish, and that adds paper and weight.
The county used to cover all of the return postage with a business reply permit, but the Postal Service couldn't guarantee that envelopes processed with the permit -- which don't require stamps -- would get a postmark, and a postmark is necessary to ensure a ballot was mailed on time, Beaton said.
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"It was the only way to go if integrity was our top goal," he said.
Franklin County stopped paying for the return postage starting with the August primary. Ballot envelopes for the Nov. 6 general election were marked with a note letting people know it will cost 65 cents to return their ballot by mail.
He added that a "forever stamp" isn't enough, because that only covers the basic 45-cent first class postage rate for letters up to 1 ounce.
Benton County Auditor Brenda Chilton said ballots from her office cost 45 cents to return.
Both counties have drop boxes in multiple locations, and Beaton said using a drop box is the best way to ensure a ballot is received and counted.
Franklin County has boxes inside and outside the courthouse in Pasco, at the annex at Third Avenue and Clark Street in Pasco, TRAC, Fire District 3's station at 2108 Road 84 and in Connell.
Benton County has boxes at the courthouse in Prosser, the annex off Canal Drive in Kennewick and the annex on Wellsian Way in Richland, Jefferson Park in Richland, and West Richland and Kennewick city halls.
Kitsap County ballots also need two stamps. Its counting equipment requires heavier paper stock, said Auditor Walter Washington.
If two stamps are a problem for voters, they can leave ballots in drop boxes, he said.
All the state's 39 counties have a least two drop boxes, said Sheryl Moss, certification and training program manager in the Elections Division of the secretary of state's office.
Ballots vary by county and the state leaves it up to counties to deal with the post office, she said.
"We will deliver to every election office whether they have sufficient postage or not," said Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson. "They will make up the difference."
Postage-due ballots are not returned to sender. It's a secret officials don't like to talk about.
"Election officials don't like us to mention that," Swanson said.
Counties can't afford to pay for mailing ballots without voters' help. At the projected ballot return of 81 percent for 3.9 million register voters, the 45-cent stamps will add up to more than $1.4 million.
"It could become quite expensive," Moss said. "It's not something they would want to be put out there."
But it hasn't been a big issue. "Up to this point I haven't heard this is a big problem," she said.
In King County, which includes Seattle and accounts for about one-third of the votes in the Washington, a single stamp is sufficient postage. The number of ballots without postage averaged about 1,100 each of the past two years, said Sherril Huff, King County elections director.
Ballots that require two stamps should have that information in the voting information from the county, Moss said.
In any case, voters should be confident a stamp doesn't stand in their way, said Kitsap Auditor Washington, who also is president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors.
Counties mailed out ballots this week. Voters can fill them out and return them any time up to the Nov. 6 postmark deadline.