The Lewis County Auditor’s Office has installed eight new ballot boxes throughout the county as the Nov. 7 general election approaches.
With the new additions, the county now has 14 drop boxes available to voters.
New boxes were installed at Mossyrock City Hall, the Mineral Fire Station, the Napavine Fire Station, the Onalaska School District Office, the Pe Ell Fire Station, the Packwood Senior Center, the Olequa Senior Center in Winlock and at the Vader publics works building.
The addition of the new ballot boxes resulted after Senate Bill 5472 was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee. The bill requires counties to have a minimum of one ballot drop box per 15,000 registered voters. Lewis County already met that threshold, but language in the bill said each city, town and census-designated area in a county was required to also have a drop box.
“The Board of County Commissioners were on board from day one and provided the necessary funding to make it happen,” Auditor Larry Grove said in an email to The Chronicle. “Commissioner Gary Stamper was instrumental in working with the city of Mossyrock, Mineral Fire District, Onalaska School District and the town of Vader to secure sites for the ballot drop boxes in those communities.”
Originally, the estimated cost for the new drop boxes added up to $52,000, but the final costs were less because of quantity discounts and additional cost savings provided by the supplier to all counties, according to Grove.
The cost of the Morton box and decals was approximately $4,500 plus installation, while the other recent ballot drop box additions cost about $3,200 per box, plus installation.
“The cooperation of the cities, fire districts and school district was key in making this happen prior to the upcoming general election,” Grove said. “Lewis County facilities crew worked diligently to ensure that all site prep work and installation was completed in a timely manner.”
Drop boxes are open 20 days prior to each election.
Almost 45,700 ballots will be mailed on Wednesday to all active registered voters within the county. Military and overseas ballots were mailed on Sept. 2.
If ballot packets have not been received by 10 days after Oct. 18, voters can receive replacement ballots in a number of different ways. They can call the elections department at 360-740-1278, 360-740-1164 or toll free within Lewis County at 1-800-562-6130, ext. 1278 or 1164.
A replacement ballot can also be obtained between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on election day. Voters are able to also go online to myvote.wa.gov, enter their voter information and select “MyBallot.” The declaration that prints with the ballot must be signed and return with the ballot, which has to be received by election day.
Voted ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 7.
“The U.S. Postal Service advises that voters should mail ballots at least one week prior to the election to account for any unforeseen events or weather issues to ensure the envelope will be postmarked in time,” according to a press release from the elections division. “Ballot envelopes returned with a postal cancellation date after election day will be invalid.”
If the ballot is not mailed until election day, the voter should take the ballot to a postal clerk and have them stamp the envelope with a cancellation stamp. If a ballot is placed in a postal service mailbox after the last pick up time, the ballot will not be postmarked in time and will therefore be invalid.
For a list of drop boxes countywide, go online to elections.lewiscountywa.gov/drop-box-locations/.