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Washington Lawmakers On Elections: 'Don’t Beat Up The Box'

Washington Secretary of State's Office
A bill in the Washington Legislature would make the removal, destruction or damage of a ballot drop box or its contents a class C felony.

No matter how frustrated you might be with any given election, don’t batter the ballot drop boxes in Washington state. Lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature passed bills Wednesday with hopes of protecting the boxes many voters use to submit their ballots.

Washington is a vote by mail state. But Rep. Zack Hudgins, from Tukwila, said some people find themselves uninspired to use snail-mail during election season.

“Because people don’t write letters the way they used to,” Hudgins said. “They don’t write love letters of days gone by, they don’t shop through the Sears catalog.”

The approved measure defines the removal, destruction or damage of a drop box or its contents as malicious mischief. It upgrades that crime to a class C felony. That means people who tamper with ballot boxes could face up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.

No cases of ballot box vandalism have been recorded in Washington. Cases of it in other states inspired the bill.

Over 300 ballot drop boxes are currently in use. But the Senate recently passed a measure to add 250 to the state’s total.