With a day left to cast ballots in the 2018 election, more than half of Spokane County voters had returned theirs to the elections office, almost assuring a record turnout for a mid-term.
Helped by a hotly contested congressional race in Eastern Washington, Spokane turnout was running about 10 percentage points ahead of the state average. Eight of the other nine counties in the 5th Congressional District also had turnout significantly higher than the state as a whole.
In Spokane-area legislative districts, ballot counts were highest in the 6th District, where Republicans and Democrats are thought to be in close races for an open Senate seat and two House seats.
All state House seats and half the state Senate seats are on ballots around Washington, as are three state Supreme Court seats, a U.S. Senate seat and four controversial initiatives.
Initiative 1631 would create a fee on fossil fuels as a way to generate money for projects that would fight carbon pollution. Initiative 1634 would prohibit cities and counties from levying taxes on soda or other grocery items. Initiative 1639 would place new restrictions on the sale of semi-automatic rifles and require safe storage of firearms in homes. Initiative 940 would change the standards for reviewing cases that involve the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers.
The rest have until 8 p.m. to either deposit their ballot in a drop box or get it in the mail so it can be postmarked today. As of Monday evening, more than 168,500 ballots had been returned in Spokane County, where slightly more than 318,000 voters are registered.
Elections offices in all 39 counties are expected to report their initial vote totals shortly after 8 p.m.
Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said he expected as many as 130,000 of Spokane’s ballots to be processed and tabulated Tuesday night, with additional counts on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
About two-thirds of Spokane County ballots are coming in by mail, and a third through drop boxes, McLaughlin said.
Washington counts ballots for up to three weeks after election day as long as they are postmarked by today. Ballots came with postage-paid return envelopes but voters who are planning to mail their ballots today should consider taking them to a post office so they can be postmarked in time, rather than leaving them in their home mailbox or a Postal Service box with an afternoon pickup time.
Drop boxes in Spokane County are located at public libraries, the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza downtown or the elections office at 1033 W. Gardner Ave. or town halls in Rockford, Spangle and Waverly.
Voters who need a replacement ballot or to use an accessible voting unit for the disabled can go to a Voter Service Center starting at 7 a.m. The centers are located at the STA Plaza, the North Spokane, South Hill and Cheney libraries and the CenterPlace Event Center in the Spokane Valley.
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