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King County testing postage-paid ballots in February

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SEATTLE  — King County voters will be able to mail in February ballots for free, as election officials test the use of postage-paid return envelopes in the upcoming special election.

Officials say the goal of the pilot project is to see whether pre-paid postage could increase voter turnout by making it easier for people to mail in ballots. They also want to know how it works administratively.

Ballots for the Feb. 14 special election have been mailed out to about 64,000 voters in the city of Maple Valley and in the Shoreline School District. Voter turnout is expected to be about 30 percent.

King County is paying the postage, estimated to cost about $12,300.

The county will only be charged for ballots mailed through the U.S. Postal Service. Ballots can also be dropped off at designated boxes.

Maple Valley voters are considering a bond for park and recreation improvements. Shoreline voters are considering a school construction bond.