Hardy said move could disenfranchise voters…
In a press release written this week, Democratic state senate candidate Karen Hardy slammed Ferry County Auditor Dianna Galvan for not providing pre-paid postage to Ferry County voters, despite the state of Washington funding pre-paid ballots for voters in all 39 counties. The funding of pre-paid ballots is new for the state this year so previously people had to pay for their postage.
“Ms. Galvan’s unilateral decision means that citizens of Ferry County will not have the same access to voting that citizens in all other counties of this state will soon enjoy,” declared Karen Hardy. “That’s unacceptable.”
Galvan told the Spokesman-Review that she is keeping an eye on taxpayers’ money in a tight budget year. The primary ballots will go out and come back the same way they have since the state of Washington moved to all-mail voting. Voters can deposit their ballots in a drop box or with a first class stamp on them. General election ballots will be postage paid.
Hardy saw it a different way, according to her press release.
“That’s a steaming pile of bull,” Hardy said, adding that the State if Washington has already provided $1.8 million to ensure ALL counties can issue pre-paid postage envelopes. The people of Ferry County pay the same taxes as everyone else in this state; they should get the same benefits.
Hardy also pointed out that part of the Colville Tribal nation is in Ferry County while the other part is in Okanogan County. She said this means some tribal members will receive pre-paid return envelopes while others will not. There is also no ballot drop box located on tribal land, so Hardy said the failure to provide pre-paid return envelopes will disproportionately affect tribal members.
“This disparity is completely unacceptable; but this is not just about postage stamps,” Hardy said, adding that the bigger problem is that the Ferry County Auditor made a unilateral decision to ignore the will of the people. Hardy asked if this is intended to disenfranchise voters and said this is another example of non-responsive, undemocratic decision-making by local officials in the region.
“The people of Northeast Washington deserve responsive leaders. Voters should hold Ms. Galvan and all of their local officials accountable,” Ms. Hardy said.
Galvan told the Spokesman-Review that the state grant wasn’t going to be enough to cover costs for both elections. The costs included throwing away outer and inner envelopes for about 4,500 Ferry County voters and buying new ones. Ferry County had ordered enough ballot envelopes in 2016 to last through the end of this year. The county would also have to pay to set up a system for pre-paid postage, where each returned envelope would cost about $1.77.
Again there will be a 50-cent first-class stamp on the general election ballots. Galvan also touched on tribal voting, saying that her father grew up on the Colville Indian Reservation. She said she is sensitive to tribal turnout dropping in recent years and this year the county put two new drop boxes on the reservation, one in Keller and one in Inchelium.