PORT ANGELES — Voting in the upcoming primary election is less expensive by the cost of postage stamp.
The 52,000 ballots that will be mailed Wednesday to Clallam County voters will contain return envelopes with business-reply postage that’s already paid for, county Elections Manager Becky Pettigrew said Friday.
The primary election has already begun for overseas and military ballots, 634 of which were mailed to those voters June 20, Voter Registration Coordinator Julie Maxion said.
Primary ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 7 or deposited in a drop box or dropped off at the Auditor’s Office at the courthouse by 8 p.m. Aug. 7.
The last day to register to vote in the primary is July 30, and it can only be done in person at the Auditor’s Office. The deadline for mail or online new voter registration was July 9.
If someone is registered in another county, they have missed the deadline to register for the Clallam County primary.
Pettigrew said the state Secretary of State’s Office provided grants to counties statewide to cover ballot-postage costs for the primary and general elections, Pettigrew said.
“This is the first election statewide where they don’t have to put a stamp on the envelope to mail them back,” Pettigrew said.
“In this case, it’s paid by the county, which received a grant to pay for it.”
The amount of the grant to cover postage was not available Friday, Pettigrew said.
The program is based on a pilot project in King County that increased voter participation.
Voters also can drop off ballots postage free in drop-boxes by 8 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Clallam County courthouse at 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles at the courthouse, at 651 W. Washington St. in the parking lot near J.C. Penney and at Forks City Hall at 500 E. Division St., Forks.
Until this election, voters in Neah Bay and Clallam Bay have had no choice but to buy stamps for their ballots since they don’t have drop boxes.
But that may change in the 20 days between the ballot mailing and due date.
Under a 2017 state law, there must be one drop box for every 15,000 registered voters and at least one drop box in every city, town and census designated place with a post office.
Clallam County commissioners are scheduled, at their meeting Tuesday, to approve contracts with the North Olympic Library System to place a box at the Clallam Bay library, 16990 state Highway 112, Clallam Bay, and with Washburn General Store to place a box at the store at 1450 Bayview Ave. in Neah Bay.
Commission Chairman Mark Ozias said he expects the board will vote to approve the contracts.
“I sure hope so,” he said Saturday.
“Anything that facilitates people voting I think is a good thing.”
Funds for the boxes are already included in the 2018 budget, Auditor Shoona Riggs said in her agenda item summary for the commissioners.
County Administrator Jim Jones said ongoing costs for the drop boxes may be an issue, especially if postage continues getting paid for voters to return their ballots for free by mail.
Ongoing costs for drop boxes include having the “dual control” of paying for two people to pick up the boxes by exactly 8 p.m. Aug. 7.
Jones questioned the need for the drop boxes if voters’ postage is already paid for mailing the ballots.
All of the two-person partisan races on the primary ballot will move on to the Nov. 6 general election.
In all primary races in which there are more than two candidates, the top two vote-getters will compete in the general election regardless of party affiliation.
There are two, three-person primaries on the Clallam County ballot, though neither is countywide.
Incumbent one-term District 3 county Commissioner Bill Peach, a Forks Republican, faces former county Commissioner Mike Doherty, a Port Angeles Democrat, and Port Angeles resident Dale Wilson, a founder and board member of Peninsula Area Public Access TV channel, who registered with no party preference.
The primary and the general elections for county commissioner include voters solely from District 3, which includes west Port Angeles within the city limits to Neah Bay.
Three lawyers are vying for Port Angeles-area District Court 1 judge, a position being vacated by Rick Porter.
Running for the post are juvenile court lawyer Suzanne Hayden, private practice attorney Pam Lindquist and Dave Neupert, legal counsel for the Peninsula Housing Authority.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, who represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, is facing Republican Douglas Dightman and Progressive Party candidate Tyler Myles Vega.
For U.S. Senator, incumbent Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, faces 28 challengers. The top two vote-getters will move on the to general election in November.
In the Legislative District 24 State Representative Position 1, Jodi Wilke, a Port Townsend Republican, is challenging incumbent Mike Chapman, a Port Angeles Democrat for the state representative Position 1 seat. In Position 2, Jim McEntire, a Sequim Republican, is challenging incumbent Steve Tharinger, a Sequim Democrat, for the Position 2 seat.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].