Most Washington voters received their ballots by mail about two weeks ago and still have them. They have until 8 p.m. today to make their choices on state issues and local races, and turn those ballots in.
Residents who are eligible to vote but haven’t gotten around to registering have until 8 p.m. to sign up and cast a ballot, although that will require a slightly longer trip.
The general election ballot has more than a page of statewide issues: a referendum to approve or reject affirmative action programs; an initiative on transportation fees; a constitutional amendment on emergency powers for the Legislature; and 11 advisory votes on taxes from the last session.
Voters in Spokane County and in most places around the state will have to turn their ballots over to find the local issues such as mayor and city council races, school and fire districts, local ballot measures and levy issues.
The city of Spokane is electing a new mayor and a new council president, as current Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart can’t seek re-election because of term limits. Stuckart is running for mayor; Condon is backing former news anchor Nadine Woodward for his replacement.
Councilman Breean Beggs and businesswoman Cindy Wendle are running for council president, and the city’s three council districts each have contests.
City voters are also asked whether to approve two charter amendments. One would require negotiations between the city and its employee unions to be open to the public. The other would ban a city income tax, although one has not been proposed.
Spokane Valley also has three contested City Council races, although those positions are elected citywide.
Liberty Lake has a mayor’s race and four council races, also all contested. Airway Heights, Cheney, Deer Park, Fairfield, Latah, Medical Lake and Millwood all have at least one contested council race.
All three board races for the Spokane School District board are contested and many of the other school districts around the county have at least one race with two candidates. Mead, Cheney and West Valley school districts have levy proposals as well.
Fire, water, sewer and cemetery districts also are electing commissioners.
For an off-year election such as this, turnout often is significantly less than in a presidential election, with only about half the voters turning in ballots. As of Monday afternoon, Spokane County was reporting just 27% of all ballots had been returned, and the city of Spokane was just slightly higher at 28.5%.
The return envelopes for Washington’s all-mail election are postage-paid, and ballots can be deposited in dropboxes by 8 p.m. tonight or postmarked today. Envelopes are checked when they arrive at the Elections Office, so voters who have waited until today to mail their ballot might want to take it to the post office to ensure a timely postmark.
Dropboxes in Spokane County are at public libraries; the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza at 701 W. Riverside Ave.; the Latah, Rockford, Spangle and Waverly town halls; and Millwood City Hall. Voters who need a replacement ballot or other assistance can go to the Elections Office at 1033 W. Gardner Ave. or Spokane Valley’s CenterPlace, 2426 Discovery Place.
Because of a recent change in state law, residents who are eligible American citizens 18 or older but not yet registered can sign up and cast a ballot on Election Day by going to either the Elections Office or CenterPlace between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Bring a Washington driver’s license, permit or identification card, or use the last four digits of your Social Security number to fill out the registration form.
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