The ballot return envelope was redesigned in 2011. There is no longer a flap to cover the voter's signature. This cover, or flap, was required by state statute in 2005 as a part of legislation that instituted a number of changes in election administration. In 2010, the state eliminated this requirement, and Thurston County returned to the pre-2005 style of envelope, saving Thurston County tax payers an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 dollars per year.
The flap was perceived as a measure to guarantee signature privacy. In practice, it was a costly feature that did not affect the privacy of voter's signatures. There is very little risk of signatures being copied from ballot envelopes as they are processed by official U.S. Post Office personnel and trained election staff. Election employees retrieve the ballots directly from the Post Office and ballot drop box locations, limiting the number of people that have contact with these envelopes.