Some voters could be in for a surprise in Tuesday’s primary election.
Some is a key word in this case, because not all voters are casting ballots in the election, and only those who go to the polls will notice any change.
In Eastern Washington, voters in Ferry and Pend Oreille counties have no primary races, while all voters in Adams, Asotin, Grant and Stevens counties will cast ballots by mail.
Spokane, Lincoln and Whitman counties still have poll site voting, but not all areas have contested races. In Spokane County, for example, more than a fourth of the voters have no primary races, including those who live in the city of Spokane’s Northeast Council District. For them, the only surprise could be finding no voting booths should they mistakenly go to their regular poll sites.
But those who do go to the polls in Tuesday’s election will be the first to encounter new state election laws, which require them to show identification before receiving a regular ballot at the polls, which will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.For most people, it will be similar to showing identification for a check in the cashier’s line. A Washington state driver’s license or state identification card will satisfy the law, and the poll workers. So will any other photo ID issued by government, such as a passport – providing, of course, that it’s an American passport – or a government employee’s identification card.
“It does not have to be a photo ID, that’s just the preference,” said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton, the county’s top elections official. Having the identification out when arriving at the ballot table will keep the line moving faster, she added.
Also acceptable is a voter registration card. In Spokane County, those cards list school, commissioner and city council districts, but don’t have a photo.
A Social Security card would be acceptable, too, but because of concerns about privacy and identity theft “we’d prefer not to be shown Social Security cards,” Dalton said.
A utility bill to the address where the voter is registered would be acceptable, Dalton said, but it must have the registered voter’s name on it, because some utilities send bills to “Occupant.” Poll workers can’t accept a bill in a spouse’s name as the voter’s identification.
A bank statement with a name and address – no Post Office box numbers – would be acceptable, as would a check from the voter’s checkbook.
“I’m sure there’s going to be lots of interesting items,” Dalton said. If poll workers aren’t sure, they’ll call the Elections Office to check. If voters have a question before going to the polls, they, too, can call the elections office.
In Spokane, that number is 477-2320. Lincoln County is 725-4971. Whitman County is 397-6270.
Voters who arrive at the polls without adequate identification will still be able to vote. They’ll be given provisional ballots, which are put in an envelope that is signed and has a space to explain why a vote could not be cast. Provisional ballots are tabulated in the week after the election, after the signatures are matched with registration records.
Mail ballots were sent to voters nearly three weeks ago. Absentee or mail-ballot voters who live in areas with primaries but haven’t received ballots, or who have lost or damaged their ballots, should call the elections office today for information about obtaining a replacement. With so little time left, they’ll likely have to go to the elections office to pick it up. Or they can go to a poll site to cast a provisional ballot.
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