by Brian Zylstra | October 14th, 2013
Ready to vote in this fall’s General Election? Make sure to first read the always-helpful Voters’ Pamphlet that is arriving in your mailbox this week.
If you don’t receive your Voters’ Pamphlet by Oct. 22, please call the Voter Hotline at (800) 448-4881 for assistance.
The Voters’ Pamphlet, provided by our Elections Division, is packed with useful information about state candidates and measures found on this fall’s ballot. It includes info on the two statewide initiatives on the ballot: Initiative 517, the “Initiative on Initiatives” that grants more time and protection for signature-gatherers, and I-522, which addresses labeling for genetically engineered foods. In addition, the Voters’ Pamphlet provides info on the five nonbinding Advisory Votes on revenue-related bills passed by the state Legislature this year.
Unlike the 2012 General Election, this year’s fall election doesn’t have high-profile races like President or Governor. Instead, this election is dominated by local races for city council, mayor, county commission, school board, port district, fire district and other positions. Some counties include their local candidates and measures in the state pamphlet, and a handful of counties publish their own Voters’ Pamphlet.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman points out that this year’s election should matter to voters because these local races can have a huge impact on them and their communities.
“The outcome of this year’s election affects the quality of your schools, your roads, your ports and fire districts, and all kinds of local services. This election will affect your family in a very direct way, so I encourage all Washington voters to vote in this election, and I encourage you to study the Voters’ Pamphlet as you fill out your ballot so you can make an educated and informed choice.”
A few factoids about this year’s Voters’ Pamphlet:
• The Elections Division is mailing it to 3.2 million households throughout Washington. There is no opt-out list for the Voters’ Pamphlet. It is delivered to every household in the state as required by the Washington Constitution. Mailing to all households is the most cost-effective way to deliver it.
• It’s printed in 18 regional editions, including in Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish (as required by federal law). Voters in Adams, Franklin and Yakima counties receive bilingual (English/Spanish) editions.
• Accessible audio and text formats are available for voters who are blind or have limited vision. Go here if you need the Voters’ Pamphlet as a plain text, audio or Word document file.
• Additional copies of the printed Voters’ Pamphlet are available in County Auditor offices, libraries, post offices, long-term care centers and disability service centers.
• The average number of pages, not counting the bilingual versions, is only 32, making it smaller than average for an odd-year General Election. And it’s much smaller than last year’s pamphlet, which typically ranged between 120 and 168 pages, with two bilingual editions carrying a whopping 240 pages or more.
• Our office does not fact-check our correct statements or arguments by candidates or ballot measure committees. They are printed as submitted.
You can also study the candidates and ballot measures on this fall’s ballot by viewing the online Voters’ Guide. In addition, our Elections Division and TVW have teamed up to offer the 2013 Video Voters Guide, which provides pro and con arguments on I-517 and I-522.
The Voters’ Pamphlet cover features images from the Grand Coulee to Grunge exhibit shown in the Secretary of State’s front office in the Legislative Building on Olympia’s Capitol Campus. (Come check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.) The back cover of the Voters’ Pamphlet includes the artwork by Amy Shell, the winner of this year’s Kids’ Art Contest. Amy is now a sixth-grader attending Highland Middle School in Bellevue.