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One in 3 WA ballots in so far

One in three ballots in Washington state have been returned to county elections offices statewide. 

Spokane County is slightly better, at 39 percent.

If you still have yours and are looking for a little help to make your final picks, scroll down to the last minute voter help here on Spin Control.

Final pickup at drop boxes is 8 p.m., and we'll be reporting tonight's returns when they start rolling in, sometime after 8:15 p.m.

Most counties will do only one count tonight, so we could have the first statewide tallies by 9 p.m.

WA voters: Drop box, voter center locations

So you've marked your ballot and want to save a stamp by putting it in a drop box.

Or you put the ballot somewhere where you wouldn't lose it when it arrived two weeks ago, and now you can't find it.

Spin Control can help with both of those.  Inside the blog are the drop box and Voter Service Center locations for Spokane County. If you live in another county, click here to find a way to find contact information for the local elections office.

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.

Ballots start to go in mail tomorrow

County elections offices around the state will begin mailing out ballots Wednesday to the state's voters. Spokane County elections officials say they will be mailing out more than 275,000 in two batches, Wednesday and Thursday.

If you are registered to vote and don't get a ballot by the following Friday, July 25th, call the elections office, which in Spokane is 509-477-2320 about a replacement ballot. (Live in another county and need their number? Click here.)

If you aren't registered to vote, but would like to be (and are a qualifying Washington resident) you have until July 28th to sign up in person at the Elections Office, which in Spokane would be at 1033 W. Gardner. Can't do it online, or by mail. Have to show up in person. Sort of the price you pay for putting it off too long.

The ballots must be marked, placed in the signed envelope and returned, either by depositing them in a drop box before 8 p.m. Aug. 5, or by mailing them back so they are postmarked no later than Aug. 5. Yes, if you mail your ballot you will have to put a stamp on the envelope. No, we will not listen to complaints about how this is unfair or as unconscionable as the poll tax. 

Your best bet for a drop box is probably the closest public library. For a list of drop box locations go inside the blog.

Today’s highlights

The Lilac Festival Royalty Coronation is scheduled for Sunday. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Good Thursday morning, everyone. I got my wish. It's supposed to be above freezing today! As we wait for our mini heat wave, we've got a few highlights from today's Valley Voice to go over.

Ballots for the Feb. 12 election will begin arriving in the mail this weekend and there are several Spokane Valley area issues on the ballot. Reporter Nicole Hensley outlines the East Valley School District construction bond and the Orchard Prairie School Distict levy. There are also details on the Rockford law enforcement services levy and the Newman Lake Fire and Rescue EMS levy renewal.

Nicole also has collected information on the 14 members of this year's Lilac Royal Court. One of the girls will be selected the Lilac Queen on Sunday. There are students from Central Valley High School, Freeman High School, and West Valley High School in the mix.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam has a story on the Millwood History Enthusiasts group that meets weekly to collect information on Millwood's history, including photos, recorded interviews or written stories.

Mapping the vote: Where the votes were

Turnout is an important statistic in any election, but it's not always the key statistic because precincts with small registration can have a high turnout but not produce many votes.

Elections turn on ballots, and the precincts with the most ballots are the most important. This map shows where the votes were in the 2012 election.

Scroll down to see maps of the turnout and the presidential breakdown of votes in Spokane County.


Documents:

Where to take your ballot

In Spokane County, there's a drop box at most public libraries, as well as a couple  other spots. For a list, go inside the blog.

For other Washington counties, click here to find the information on your county

Registration up but ballots coming in slower

Spokane County has record voter registration this year, but it may not be on track to have a record turnout.

Or “turn-in” if you prefer the more accurate description of how Washington states.

A comparison of the rate of ballot returns up to today shows Spokane is significantly behind the rate in 2008. It is, however, ahead of the rates in the last two non-presidential years with other partisan races, 2006 and 2010.

State elections officials, who are expecting this year to fall behind the 2008 record for ballots cast, now say they may have to revise their forecast upwards. Turn-in statistics in some of the state's other large counties have Washington elections officials are in line with four years ago. 

Today is significant in Spokane County for two reasons. One, it's a week before the deadline for mailing or depositing ballots in drop boxes. The second is that this is the day when Spokane County turn-in figures show the ballots placed in drop boxes over last weekend, so there's usually a significant bump from Monday.

Right now, ballot turn-in stands at 31.1 percent, or 88,326 of the county's 282,139 registered voters ballots. Four years ago it was 36.3 percent, or 95,369 of the county's 258,162 registered voters. In other words, it's off by about 7,000 ballots.

County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin doesn't think this is necessarily a sign that voters are less interested in this year's presidential election.

“They're voting later,” McLaughlin said. “I think the initiatives are slowing some people down.”

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Election officially begins in Washington

Washington's Election Day, which is actually a nearly three-week period, began today as county elections offices around the state began mailing out ballots. Some have so many that the process will continue through Friday to meet the statutory deadline for getting all ballots in the mail.

In Spokane County, elections officials mailed out some 153,000 ballots today, or slightly more than half of the total. Those ballots are going to voters in the 3rd and 4th Legislative Districts, while ballots to the 6th, 7th and 9th districts will be mailed Thursday, Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said. At 8.7 cents per ballot — a bulk rate for pre-sorted, non-profit mail — Wednesday's trip to the post office cost the county $13,277.57

Spokane County has a record number of registered voters, at 280,301.

Ballots typically take a few days to reach a voter's mailbox. Voters who haven't moved from the residence listed in their registration could call the elections office if they haven't received a ballot by next Tuesday, McLaughlin said. Voters who recently moved or are out of town, and having the mail forwarded to another address, should contact the office if they haven't received their ballot by Oct. 25. The number is 509-477-2320.

Ballots must be marked, placed in the signed envelopes and either mailed back to the county elections office or deposited in a drop box by Nov. 6. In Spokane County, drop boxes are located at public libraries as well as the elections office at 1033 W. Gardner and the STA Plaza in downtown Spokane.

Ballots in the mail

Today is the day for county elections offices in Washington to begin mailing out ballots for the Aug. 7 state primary.

Spokane County will start its mail “drop” of about 265,000 ballots, finishing it on Thursday.

All registered voters should receive their ballots by early next week. If you get to the end of next week, and still no ballot, you should contact your county elections office to find out what's going on. In Spokane County, that number is 509-477-2320. For contact information for other Washington counties, click here.

The ballot is fairly long, because some of the races have a long list of candidates who would love to have your vote. Chances are, there's a fair number you've never heard of. For information on candidates for state and local offices, check out The Spokesman-Review's Election Center and the Washington Secretary of State's Online Voter's Guide.

Once you've marked your ballot, you can either mail it in (postmarked by Aug. 7) or save a stamp by depositing it in a Drop Box.

A list of Spokane County Drop Box locations can be found inside the blog.

No lie: They’re in the mail

General election ballots for Spokane County began hitting the post office today.

County elections is mailing a total of 265,768 ballots to registered voters. They started today and will finish on Thursday. That means if you don't get a ballot by next Friday, Oct. 28, something might be amiss and you want to call the county elections office, at 477-2320, to find out what's going on while there's still time to get a replacement in the mail.

It is still possible to register to vote for the Nov. 8 general election, although you'll have to go to your county elections office to sign up in person.

After they are marked, sealed and signed, ballots can be returned by mail as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 8, or deposited in a drop box at locations set up in each county.

The locations of Spokane drop boxes can be found inside the blog.

Ballots are in the mail

Ballots for the Aug. 16 primary are in the mail, and should be showing up in the boxes of registered voters this week. Spokane County officials said they were sending out some 200,000 to voters around the county.

But not every voter will get a ballot because not every city, town or political district has a race with enough candidates to require a primary.

For example, the 4th District State Senate race is not on the ballot, even though it features two Republicans, incumbent Jeff Baxter and former state Rep. Mike Padden. Because primaries are no longer partisan, and because they are the only two candidates to file for the seat, the race will be decided in the Nov. 8 general election.

The City of Spokane has a primary for mayor and council president, but only voters in the city's northeast 1st District have a primary for in a council race. Only one Spokane Valley council race has enoung candidates to warrant a primary.

Ballots can be mailed back by Election Day (be sure to put a stamp on the envelope) or deposited without a stamp in a drop-off box at public libraries and other sites around the county. For a list of sites, click here.

DOTC: No Ballots Were Counted Early

Dan of the County: To be clear, no ballots are counted early, period. It took two solid days of 8-10 people working to open just the absentee ballots that KC received this time. As it was, every available election worker worked until after 5 a.m. the next morning. I can’t imagine how long it would have been if they hadn’t already at least opened the absentee ballots even with the write-in issue. It sounds like a good compromise would be to still allow watchers but who are located in a separate room with a video feed of the overall process but not in enough detail to see marks on the ballot or at least make them be well back from the process if you can’t trust them not to violate the process of ballot secrecy. More below.

Question: Any other questions re: Election Night for Dan?

 

DOTC: I Will Steer Clear Of Ballots

Dan of the County: I do not handle or pick up or count or in any way interact with ballots when I am on the ballot myself. I will be visiting polling sites on election day to deliver other supplies and check on election day activities in general as is my responsibility. That also includes getting called out to polling sites when there are reports of someones sign being too close, etc. On election night I will be at the elections office but again will not handle ballots and will not be involved in posting results on the internet or other reports.

Question: Any other question for the clerk’s office re: ballot handling or Election Night?

Today’s ballot turn-in: 7,650

As suggested yesterday, Tuesday was likely the high-water mark for ballots being received in Spokane County for the next two weeks.

Today’s count was 7,650, down about 4,500 from Tuesday’s 12,104.

Highest turnout right now is in central Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District, which is at about 11.2%, compared to 10.4% for the 4th District, 9.6% for the 6th District. 9.1% for the 7th District and 8.7% for the 9th District.

The 3rd District typically leads in turnout at the beginning of the turn-in, but drops to the bottom by election day.

Today’s an important day for this election

Today isn’t marked in red on calendars, but it is an important day for political candidates and the people who work for them.

It’s the first Tuesday after ballots were mailed out in Washington state. And it is traditionally the high-water mark for ballots coming into the county elections office until the actual election day.

Generally speaking, about a third of voters who are going to mark and cast ballots do so as soon as they get them or over that first weekend. So today is the day that ballots from people who live in the county and mailed by Monday are most likely arrive. Returns will trail off until the day before Election Day, if this year is at all typical (which, admittedly, is assuming facts not in evidence.)

Today’s count: 12,104 out of Spokane County’s 260,597 voters, or about 4.6% of those eligible.

In 2008, the first Tuesday ballot count for the presidential election was 18,965 ballots, or about 7.2 percent of 262,569 registered voters. The county went on to experience record-setting turnout with 222,065 ballots cast. The difference in first Tuesday ballot totals could numeric evidence that an “enthusiasm gap” does exist.

But there are two other sets of numbers to examine when looking at ballot returns and enthusiasm, the vote totals in the primaries.

In this August primary, the first Tuesday count was 11,083 out of the county’s 260,160 voters, or about 4.2%. By the end of the election, 113,090 people voted. In August 2008 (which, like this year did not  have a presidential race on that ballot, 8,665 out of the county’s 243,568 voters sent in their ballots, and 113,837 voted.


They’re in the mail. Honest.

Ballots to Spokane County voters go into the mail starting today.

It’s a two-day process to mail out some 255,000 ballots in Spokane County, so ballots to the 3rd Legislative District (central Spokane) and 4th Legislative District (Spokane Valley) are being mailed today, and those to the 6th (curving from northwest Spokane around to the South Hill), the 7th (Deer Park and the northern tip part of the county) and the 9th (the West Plains and the southern third of the county) go out Thursday.

If you don’t get your ballot by Oct. 21, you can figure that something may be amiss, and you should call the elections office at 477-2320.

Ballots have to be marked, signed and sent by Nov. 2. That means a postmarked by that day, or — for those wishing to save a stamp — dropped in a pickup box. Drop boxes can be found at most county libraries. A list of locations and addresses can be found inside the blog.

Your ballot: It’s in the mail. No. Really. It is.

Ballots for the Aug. 17 Top Two primary are being dropped in the mail today and Thursday.

That explains why the number of political commercials on television and the radio are starting to increase, and campaign signs are sprouting like dandelions all over the community.

Rules are the same as always. Mark the ballot anytime between the moment you receive them and the evening of Aug. 17. Follow the directions, because some inks drive the computer scanners crazy.

Put the ballot in the double-envelope system. Sign the outer envelope. If you are mailing it in, put a stamp on it, and if it’s like Aug. 16 or 17, make sure that the box where you’re putting it has pickup before the election day so it can get postmarked in time.

Or save yourself a stamp and take it to a drop-off box. Generally speaking, they’re at public libraries, with a few other spots thrown in. A full list of locations is inside the blog.