Washington voters have narrowed the field for the General Election, including the hotly contested race for Seattle Mayor, three special state Senate races and literally hundreds of important local offices.
By Wednesday midday, counties had tallied over 660,000 ballots after carefully verifying the voter signatures. That amounted to 20.5 percent of those who received ballots, a number sure to increase as Tuesday evening’s drop-box ballots and those still in the mail are added in. Washington’s election law allows any ballot with a Tuesday postmark, from anywhere on the globe, to be counted. Most will come in this week, but some will trickle in next week, as well, particularly the military and overseas ballots. The state Elections Division had forecast a 30 percent return rate once all eligible ballots are counted.
County canvassing boards must certify their returns by Aug. 20. Secretary of State Kim Wyman will have until Aug. 23 to certify the election.
Wyman said the 30 percent turnout is the historic average for the odd-year election that follows the presidential/governor election year. She had promoted the election, noting that local government offices such as ports, mayors, councils and school boards, have a tangible impact on a voter’s quality of life. She added:
“I would certainly expect a healthy turnout in the General Election, when final decisions will be made about who will represent us and serve our communities for the coming years. In the fall, we will also be voting on two statewide initiatives (GMO labeling of foods, I-522, and Tim Eyman’s ‘initiative on initiatives,’ I-517), and five tax advisory votes. Seattle and other cities will elect mayors and council members and some counties also have county council and executive races.”
This year’s Primary included a hard-fought contest for Seattle Mayor, with incumbent Mike McGinn surviving to move on to the General Election. He finished second, however, to Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, best known around the state for his 18 years as a legislative leader and for his sponsorship of gay-rights measures, including the successful R-74 campaign last fall to authorize same-sex marriage. Murray and his partner plan to marry soon. McGinn’s challengers collectively had 73 percent of the vote Tuesday night.
In a closely watched state Senate race in the 26th District, the appointed Democratic incumbent, Nathan Schlicher, was finishing well behind Republican state Rep. Jan Angel. Republicans are hoping to pad their narrow hold on the Senate coalition that runs the upper chamber. The House is Democratic and freshman Gov. Jay Inslee is, too.
In an interesting twist made possible by voter approval of the Top 2 Primary system for partisan office, two Republicans advanced to the finals for two Eastern Washington state Senate seats. In neither district did Democrats field a candidate. The appointed Republican incumbents, Sharon Brown in the 8th and John Smith in the 7th, finished well ahead of their closest challengers.