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Spin Control

Posts tagged: primary

Sunday Spin: What will primary turnout be?

OLYMPIA – With Washington’s primary a mere 10 days away, the big question – after who’ll survive and go to the general election, of course – is how many voters will bother to cast ballots.

It’s a common question around the country, as a recent study shows primary turnout is down in most states from 2010, the last mid-term primaries.

A recent report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate says turnout is down even in states that took steps to make it easier to vote by offering such things as election day registration or early voting. This must confound voting-reform advocates who believe the only thing needed to do to promote more frequent and fervent voting is to make it easier, as if voters are being deterred from casting a ballot because they must turn over their first-born child to register and walk two miles in the snow, uphill both ways, to the polling place on election day. . . 

Spokane County turnout nudges past 10%

Slightly more than 30,000 ballots for the Aug. 5 primary have been returned to the Spokane County elections office.

That pushes turnout — or turn in, to be more precise — to about 10.5 percent countywide. County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said the county is on track for the predicted turnout of between 35 percent and 40 percent total.

The four-way primary in the 5th Congressional District and a three-way primary for a 4th Legislative District House seat are drawing interest, McLaughlin said. The 6th Legislative District Senate race is also getting attention, even though it has only two candidates so both will advance to the general.

As usual, the mailbags were heavy on Monday, after the first weekend ballots had been in homes after they were mailed out the middle of last week. That's often the heaviest day for ballot returns until the Monday before the election.  People who know who they plan to vote for (or against) in all races tend to mark their ballots and drop them in the mail, as do folks who plan to be gone at some point between now and the election and don't want to forget. 

Unlike primaries in some odd-numbered years which can be hit or miss for having enough candidates for some municipal elections, all voters in the state get a ballot this year because of primaries for federal and state elections. Most of those offices are partisan. But under the state's primary system, the candidate with the most and second-most votes advance to the general, regardless of party. 

Primary turnout in even-year elections typically is near or above 40 percent, McLaughlin said. One exception was 2002, which like this year had no primaries for statewide offices or a U.S. Senate seat and had a turnout of 36 percent.

Ballots must be marked, placed in the provided envelopes which must be appropriately signed, and deposited at a drop box by 8 p.m. Aug. 5 or mailed with proper postage so they are postmarked by that date. 

Spokane County drop boxes can be found at public libraries. For a list of addresses, click here to go inside the blog.

Election junkies who want to follow the turnout statistics can click here and call up the latest PDF under Statistics.

90 percent of ballots could be counted tonight

Spokane County could count as much as 90 percent of the ballots for the primary tonight.

Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said county elections staff have processed and readied for tabulation all ballots received by this morning. That leaves only the ballots being placed in the drop boxes today and those that come in the mail Wednesday and beyond.

Turnout is light, but mail delivery on the day after the election is usually heavy for ballots.

As of this morning, the county had received 36,564 ballots out of the 194,626 mailed out, or just under 19 percent.

McLaughlin estimated the final turnout will be around 40,000.

They'll release a single tally tonight just after 8 p.m., and another on Wednesday around 5 p.m.

If you still have your ballot and plan to vote, see the post below.

Time running out to vote in primary

Tuesday is the last day to turn in a ballot for the primary election.

For most Eastern Washington voters, it's a short ballot. One or two races for city council seat, a fire district or school board. The names might not be household words. The campaign may have slipped by unnoticed.

The good  news in all this: Getting up to speed on the primary choices won't take very long. You could tap into Primary Section of The Spokesman-Review's Election Center. Spokane County voters can get some candidate-provided info at the county's Online Voters Guide.

Remember, Washington votes by mail. Ballots were sent out about three weeks ago, so it may be in that stack of unopened bills and coupons on a desk or counter somewhere.

Once the ballot is marked, voters have two options.

Seal it in the envelope, sign it, put a stamp on it and mail it so that it's postmarked before 8 p.m. Tuesday. (Hint: dropping in a mail box or at a closed post office at 7:59 p.m. isn't going to cut it. For those waiting until the last day, it's a good idea to take it into the post office, had it to a postal clerk and ask to have it postmarked.)

Or seal it, sign it and deposit it in a ballot drop box before 8 p.m. Tuesday. (Dropping it off at 7:59 p.m. Tuesday actually will work for this option. But don't push your luck because election workers are usually there sharply at 8 p.m. to pick up the ballots.)

All public libraries in Spokane County have drop boxes, although the drop boxes at Medical Lake and Cheney aren't open for the primary, because voters in those areas have no primary ballots to cast. (Editor's note: an earlier version of this post incorrectly listed an incorrect library that wasn't open for ballots.) For a list of addresses for the Spokane County drop boxes, go inside the blog.

For voters in other counties, check with the elections office for the nearest drop box.

Mapping the vote: One way to look at the 6th District House race

Former state Rep. Dennis Dellwo came out on top in many of the precincts in last week's four-way contest for an open state House of Representatives seat.

But Republican Jeff Holy, who finished second overall and moves on to the general election against Democrat Dellwo, might have more to cheer about when one considers how the total GOP vote stacks up against Dellwo's total.

A map of Dellwo vs. the GOP field can be foundin the map above.  A map of the winner of each precinct can be found in the post above.

For a closer look, click on the PDF version of the map.


Documents:

How excited are voters for the primary?

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell talks with Daryl Romeyn, a candidate for Spokane County commissioner, at the county Democratic Party's fund-raiser in Riverfront Park.

Every couple of weeks, some national pundit or cable news talking head ruminates about the “enthusiasm gap” for a certain set of voters.

Sometimes the gap is diagnosed among Democrats, who were oh so excited to vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but now, not so much. Other times the gap is prognosticated among Republicans who backed a different candidate in the primaries and now the best they can say about Mitt Romney is “at least he's better than Obama.”

If there is an enthusiasm gap in Spokane, it may be for a primary that takes place the first full week in August. This observation comes not from polling or deep analysis of ballot returns (cursory analysis, however, says they are nothing to brag about) but from a brief stop at the Spokane County Democrats' salmon bake and Obama birthday celebration Saturday night.

Normally, if you put together a warm clear summer night on the north bank of the Spokane River, offered baked salmon and  liquid refreshments whose containers must reveal their alcoholic content, you could draw a decent crowd of Democrats. Throw in the chance to see the party's U.S. Senate candidate, the wife of its gubernatorial candidate and a passel of other local office seekers, and offer cupcakes to mark the president turning 51, you could count on what used to be called a rip-snorter of a time. 

Saturday's turnout was, in the view of several longtime Ds there, disappointing. Not abysmal, but not outstanding, either. Sen. Maria Cantwell and other candidates dutifully worked the crowd. Supporters of one or another of the Democrats in that crowded 3rd Legislative District state rep race eyed each other warily, and asked those on the sidelines “Who do you think will win?”

(My answer at various times: 1. I live 300 miles away; I don't know. 2. It may come down to turnout. 3. It's possible the two Republicans could split the GOP vote in such a way that two Democrats will make it into the general. 4. The wild card could be the Tea Party vote. 5. The wild card could be the Christian Conservative vote. 6.  It could depend the independent vote in Hillyard, or the lower South Hill, or the northwest part of the district. 7. Ask me who will win the state treasurer's race. There's only one candidate in that one. I actually believe any combination of 2 through 6 could happen, but 1 and 7 are the only things I'm sure of.)

The real problem for the salmon bake may be the problem for the primary. It's summertime, and the living is easy, as “George Gershwin once astutely observed. Easy living does not often galvanize people to political action. (Editor's note: Earlier version of this post wrongly attributed the lyricist of the song until an alert reader pointed out our mistake.)

 A weekend political event must compete with a trip to the lake place or the favorite campsite or that promised trip to grandma's, or even a backyard barbecue. Yes, the ballots were mailed out some two weeks ago, but for voters who've been gone on some multi-week peregrination and are just returning from the mountains or parks or beaches or Disneyland or wherever, they are tucked in among the bills, the offers of new credit cards, back-to-school ads and outdated magazines.

Some uncast primary votes could easily be lost in the summer shuffle. If that's the case,  pundits may spend much time dissecting the upcoming returns for an enthusiasm gap. 

A video voter’s guide for the primary

TVW and the Secretary of State's office have put together a video voter's guide for statewide candidates on the Aug. 7 primary election.

For voters who want to see the candidates before making a choice, here's your chance.

If the video is taking too long to load, (it's a big file)  try the TVW website here.

Primary results: All over but the signing

Spokane County and other counties around the state are set to certify their primary election results today. There’s no big surprises or reversals in the results that were essentially finalized Tuesday night.

But of course, there is trivia that can be gleaned from the Spokane numbers. For example:

Race with the biggest “I don’t care” factor: Uncontested Supreme Court Position 5, in which 42,250 people didn’t mark a ballot for Barbara Madsen or write in another name. But that wasn’t solely because she was running unopposed. The three way race for Position 6 also had 32,125 voters refusing to choose among Bryan Chushcoff, Charlie Wiggins and Richard Sanders.

Having plenty of options also didn’t seem to help voters in some county races. Despite five candidates in the prosecutor’s race, 184 voters wrote in someone else and 8,810 voters just left it blank. And having six assessor candidates — two Republicans, two Democrats and two independents — was either not enough for 158 voters, who wrote someone else in. And possibly too many to choose from for the 7,140 voters who just left it blank.

Race that will be most different in the general election: County treasurer’s race, because incumbent Skip Chilberg will have an opponent. Rob Chase ran as a write-in and got enough to move on to the Nov. ballot. (Sure, you could argue that the Senate race will be more different because it will shrink from 15 candidates to two. But the names that remain are the ones that we’ve known about for months.)

Closest race: Second place in the county commissioner’s race went to Al French with 5,215 votes compared to Jeff Holy with 5,102, a difference of .37 percent of all votes cast. Numerically, there was a closer race for Republican precinct committee officer in Precinct 3134 in which Kirk Smith got 87 votes and Bill Mann got 85, but technically Smith one by more than a full perecentage point.

Most surprising showing: Norma D. Gruber got 898 votes in Spokane County, and about 9,150 statewide, in the U.S. Senate race, which was more than Mohammad Said, Goodspaceguy, Mike The Mover, Mike Latimer, Schalk Leonard, William Chovill or Will Baker. Although most of the aforementioned were less-than-serious contenders, what’s remarkable about Gruber is that unlike the others she did not campaign AT ALL. Gruber’s husband was diagnosed with a serious illness just after filing week, and she suspended her campaign, went to no forums or fairs, put up no signs, spent no money. But she did better than half the field.

Where they’ll be on election night

Not sure if this says more about Spokane’s two major party organizations than anything we could, but, both have plans for gatherings on primary election night.

Spokane County Republicans will be at the New Life Assembly of God Church, 10920 East Sprague, starting about 6:30 p.m.

Spokane County Democrats will be at Toad Hall, their frequent gathering spot which by day goes by Hamilton Studios, 1427 W. Dean.

Not all candidates for either party will be at those locations, however.

Republicans Shelly O’Quinn, Steve Salvatori and Chris Bugbee will be at the Plechner Building, 608 W 2nd Ave.

Democrats Louise Chadez, Sadie Charlene Cooney and Daryl Romeyn will be at Working Class Heroes Bar and Grill, 1914 N. Monroe St.

 

Time running out to cast primary ballot

8 p.m. Tuesday.

That’s the deadline for getting your primary ballot on the way to the elections office in Washington state.

And by on the way, that means postmarked, not just dropped in some random mail box at 7:59 p.m. If you are mailing it in today or tomorrow, it usually makes sense to drop it off at the post office to ensure that it will be post marked.

Of course, that means you’ll have to know when your local post office closes, because they don’t necessarily pick up from the mail boxes outside their doors if they closed for the day.

But you can save a stamp and be sure of getting it in by depositing it in an official county drop box. Most public libraries in Spokane County have drop boxes. For a full list, go inside the blog.

Since when do Democrats win late counts?

Jon Snyder must be smiling with the latest counts from Tuesday’s primary.

What was virtually a tie on election night between him and incumbent Spokane City Councilman Mike Allen has become an easy win for him. Since Tuesday’s count, he has gotten 455 more votes than Allen, putting him ahead by a solid 4 percentage points. Of course, a win doesn’t mean much more than bragging rights since both did well enough to move to the general election.

What’s strange about Snyder’s surge is that since vote-by-mail was instituted a few years ago, Republicans generally have done better in late counts, either because Republicans prefer to hold onto their ballots until election day or because of get-out-the-vote efforts.

Although the City Council race is nonpartisan, Snyder was endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Any theories on Snyder’s strong showing among voters who mailed their ballot late?

Mark your calendar: Filing week is coming

Washington residents who are thinking about running for some local office this year had better make up their minds quickly. It’s almost time to spit or get off the spot.

Next week is filing week. From the time the county courthouse doors open Monday morning until 5 p.m. next Friday, a would-be office holder can walk in, fill out a form and, if the job pays more than a grand, plunk down his or her filing fee to get a spot on the Aug. 18 primary ballot.

Those who want to avoid the long lines at county elections offices … and Spin Control is being facetious here, generally speaking … can file online.

Most offices this year are non partisan. But there is a partisan legislative race in Eastern Washington’s 9th District, where Don Cox was appointed to a seat that became open by the death of Steve Hailey but decided not to run. The 9th will have a Top 2 primary, which means the first and second finishers go on to the Nov. 3 general election, regardless of party.

That’s the way it is in nonpartisan races, anyway. No matter how many get into the primary, the two with the most votes move on to the general election.

Who’s got elections this fall in Spokane County? Go inside the blog for the list.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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