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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.

You wouldn’t be the first

To drop off your ballot at one of the free-standing collection boxes outside libraries and elsewhere and wonder about the chance the box will be vandalized before the next pick-up.

It’s Election Day. So vote already

Spin Control has been counting down to Election Day for you since…well, almost since last Election Day.

And we realize that most people who read political blogs have voted by now. But if for some reason you haven't — or more likely you know someone who hasn't and you're trying to help them out — here's our last bits of advice and assistance: 

 Your ballots have to be either postmarked or deposited in a drop box by 8 p.m.

If you're a Washington voter who has lost your ballot, spilled coffee on it, filled in the circles with an improper writing implement (pencils, red ballpoint, crayon), ripped it up, let the dog chew on it….we could go on, but you get the picture…you can get help or a replacement ballot at a Voter Service Center until 8 p.m.

If you have questions about a particular issue or race, you can find stories and videos on The Spokesman-Review's election archives by going to the home page, and clicking on the links for 2011 Washington Elections or 2011 Idaho Elections. You can also check out the Secretary of State's Voter Guide for statewide issues, the TVW Video Voter's Guide for the state ballot measures, the Spokane County Online Voter's Guide for local candidates and issues.

Go inside the blog to find a list of Voter Service Centers and Drop Boxes in Spokane County. For other counties, click here for the Secretary of State's interactive map for county elections offices.

In Idaho, you have to go to the polls to vote, and show up with photo I.D.. But you can vote today even if you aren't registered if:
—You're a U.S. citizen
—You're at least 18 years old.
—You have proof that you've lived in Idaho for at least 30 days.

To do that, you must go to the proper polling station with photo I.D. and some proof of residency in the state for at least the last 30 days (a document that has the address that matches your photo I.D.) To find your proper polling station, call the county elections office. A list can be found here.

If the thought of the election season being over tomorrow makes you sad, take heart. It's only 365 days until next year's election. If you were listening to the national news on Sunday, you may have heard the election was a year from yesterday. And that's correct, but next year is a Leap Year, so there was an extra day slipped into the count, as there is every presidential election year.

Saintz: Write First, Results Later

“Election Day has come again. Time to write multiple versions of a story with multiple outcomes and choose the most relevant at 10 p.m.!” — Kelsey Saintz, Shoshone News-Press, via Twitter.

Question: Have you ever wondered how we fill all those column inches of news print on the tight deadlines of Election Night?

Where do I take my ballot?

You have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to mark your ballot, place it in the proper envelopes, seal and sign the envelopes and take it to a drop box or mail it. Be sure if you mail it on Tuesday, it will be postmarked that day, so taking it to the post office is a good idea, dropping it in the neighborhood mailbox in the afternoon, not so much.

If you're wondering where the drop boxes in Spokane County are, go inside te blog. If you live in another county, click here for a map that has phone numbers for all the county elections offices.

Tuesday is (fill in the blank) day. Get’cher ballot in

Most readers can remember when Tuesday would've been called Election Day, capital letters included. Most of the ballots would have been cast between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Barring some problem with equipment, most of them would've been counted between 8 p.m. and some time in the wee hours of the next morning.

Washington state got away from that when it started down the road to mail-in ballots for folks who hadn't fled for warmer climes or foreign shores. It now mails ballots out about three weeks before it starts counting them, and continues to count for another couple of weeks.

So what is Nov. 8 this year, anyway?

The Secretary of State's office sent out a press release today, referring to it as “Washington's 2011 ballot-return deadline, formerlly known as Election Day.” It's accurate, but has sort of the same feeling as “the artist formerly known as Prince.”

Anyway, whatever you want to call it, 8 p.m. Tuesday is your last chance to vote. Get your ballot to a drop box by then, or get it in the mail soon enough that it is postmarked by then.

If you're wondering where the drop boxes in Spokane County are, go inside the blog for a list. If you live in another county, click here for a map that has phone numbers for all the county elections offices.

Can't pick your county out of a map? Then you probably shouldn't be voting, anyway.

Today is the day…

It’s Election Day, and the polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. At my local polling place, things were busy but running smoothly with a steady flow of people showing up to vote. The ballot’s quite long, with everything from U.S. Senate to highway district board, and from constitutional amendments to a slew of magistrate retention votes. Voters in Boise are being greeted by brilliantly sunny skies and vivid fall foliage; it couldn’t be a nicer day to go out and cast your vote…

Early Ballot Opening Could Skirt Law

County clerks across the state are opening absentee ballots early despite state law that apparently bars doing so. On Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst told clerks they could open ballots early; clerks wanting to cut the election-day workload and to have time to flatten the folded papers before running them through optical scanners on Tuesday had asked for permission. Creased ballots pass through scanners slower and can jam the machines, said Ada County Election Supervisor Jo Spencer. Hurst advised clerks, in an e-mail, to figure how long opening ballots would take and begin opening that period of time before Tuesday/Jay Patrick, Idaho Reporter. More here.

Question: Should county clerks be allowed to open absentee ballots early?