Washington’s 2011 primary is underway, with county election officials mailing ballots to more than three-fourths of the state’s registered voters.
It’s the first election since lawmakers officially switched the state to full use of vote-by-mail. Pierce County, the last holdout for poll-site voting for a dwindling number of their residents, had made the switch to mail balloting.
Not every registered voter should expect to receive a ballot. Two counties have no primary at all this year — Franklin and Wahkiakum — and portions of many counties also have no races that are contested in the primary.
There are no statewide primaries this year. The primaries for statewide office, including open races for governor, attorney general and secretary of state, will be next year, and that’s when the U.S. Senate, 10 U.S. House races, and many legislative, judicial and other contests will be on the ballot.
Two special legislative races to fill unexpired terms in Spokane and Clark counties, will be on the November ballot this year.
All told, the state Elections Division calculates that about 78 percent of the state’s registered voters, or about 2.86 million, will get primary ballots. Postmark deadline is Aug. 16, and turn-in deadline for drop boxes or voting centers, is at 8 p.m., Aug. 16.
Registered? The last possible date for an in-person registration for a new voter who wants to vote in the Aug. 16 primary is Aug. 8.
Secretary of State Sam Reed, the state’s chief elections official, said odd-year elections in Washington are largely devoted to local elections, mostly nonpartisan, and various ballot propositions. Turnout is typically not as strong as in even-numbered years, when many hotly contested races generate heavy voter and media attention and ad blitzes.
But Reed asked voters to “dig deep” and do their civic duty, and privilege, this year.
“As a former local elected official for many years, I can tell you that the local elections are often pivotal to the life of a community. Local government truly is the government closest to the people and those whom we elect will be making exceptionally important decisions in the days to come.
“We ask that every eligible citizen, particularly our young people 18 and older, get registered, get involved, get informed, and vote this year. Your vote truly is your voice, and you deserve to be heard.”
By David Ammons