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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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It’s Election Day in Spokane: Ballots due by 8 p.m. tonight

A voter casts her ballot last fall. Today is Election Day in Spokane County. Voters can drop ballots into ballot boxes until 8 p.m. tonight. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
A voter casts her ballot last fall. Today is Election Day in Spokane County. Voters can drop ballots into ballot boxes until 8 p.m. tonight. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

Voters might want to brave the cold and return their ballots to the U.S. Post Office or ballot boxes in person for today’s special election.

Due to snowy conditions that might affect mail service to residential areas, Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin suggested voters return their ballots to ballot boxes spread across the county or drop them off at their local post office before the business day ends.

“There’s no guarantees they’ll be picked up at your homes,” he said. “But they’ll do their best to pick them up from the boxes.”

He said bus service runs near most ballot box locations, which include the STA Plaza, most public libraries, the Spokane County Elections Office and Millwood City Hall.

Ballots must be deposited at drop boxes by 8 p.m.

As of Monday afternoon, about 27.2 percent of Spokane County voters had returned their ballots. McLaughlin said that was between 2 and 2.5 percent below last year’s count.

He said there is a group of voters that usually waits until election day to turn in their ballots, and he expects about 21,000 to arrive over the next three days. The election’s office likely won’t know if the weather affected voter turnout until they release the preliminary results Tuesday night, he said.

Voter turnout for last year’s February special election was about 36 percent countywide, according to Spokane County Election data. For last year’s midterm elections, almost 73 percent of voters participated countywide.

Five levies are on this year’s ballot which would raise funds for one school district and four fire departments across different parts of the county.

The city of Spokane’s $5.8 million per year fire and police levy divided the mayor and the city council, with Mayor David Condon and Councilman Mike Fagan opposing using property taxes to pay for public safety employees and the other six members of the city council supporting it.

The levy would collect 30 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value, or $60 for a $200,000 home. It would pay for 30 firefighters, 20 additional police officers and fund some other public safety services.

The $113 million Spokane Valley Fire Department levy would also pay for employees, new facilities and new fire engines.

The maintenance and operations levy costs would be spread over four years and would replace an expiring levy voters approved in 2015.

Valley homeowners would pay $1.90 per $1,000 of assessed home value, which is a 10 cent increase from the expiring 2015 levy. Homeowners who own a home valued at $200,000 would pay $380 per year.

The soon-to-expire levy already funds 54 percent of the fire department’s annual operating budget, which covers salaries and day-to-day expenses. If voters approve the tax, the fire department would purchase a new alternative response unit, which is a smaller vehicle a firefighter and paramedic use to respond to medical calls. It would also replace aging fire trucks and fund a new fire station.

The Spokane County Fire Protection District 8 levy, which covers some portions of the South Hill, South Spokane Valley and Valleyford, would collect $7 million over four years, beginning in 2020. Homeowners would pay 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value and the tax dollars would pay for additional training and pay for firefighters and paramedics.

Spokane County Fire Protection District 13 is asking voters to replace an emergency services levy that is expiring this year that would allow the fire district to continue the same level of service. Homeowners would pay 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value for six years.

The Orchard Prairies School District has asked voters for $250,000 over two years to pay for education programs and operation expenses that are not funded by the state.

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