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Signed up to vote? Monday’s your main deadline ?>

Signed up to vote? Monday’s your main deadline

With the U.S. Senate and many, many great primaries shaping up, you certainly don’t want to be left out.  For qualified Washington residents, Monday is the standard deadline to get signed up by handy-dandy online registration or by traditional paper application, or to update your address or name change.

The primary is August 17, but most of us will be voting by mail. Ballots will be going in the mail by July 30.

There is a late registration deadline for in-person signup at your county elections office if you’re not already registered in Washington. That deadline is August 9.  The deadlines to register in time to vote in the November 2 General Election are Oct. 4 for standard, and Oct. 25 for late deadline.

Gregoire, Reed certify R-71 and November returns ?>

Gregoire, Reed certify R-71 and November returns

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed and Governor Chris Gregoire have made it official, certifying that voters turned down Tim Eyman’s latest ballot measure, but adopted the “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law approved by the Legislature last spring.

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Referendum 71, placed on the ballot by foes of same-sex marriage, was approved by a margin of more than 110,000 votes, or more than 6 percentage points. National media describe it as the country’s first voter-approved domestic partnership or “everything-but-marriage” law. (more…)

WA final election turnout: 51 percent ?>

WA final election turnout: 51 percent

As forecast by Secretary Reed, about 51 percent of the state’s 3.6 million registered voters cast ballots in this month’s general election.

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That’s about average for an off-year election with few statewide contests.  Falloff from last year’s record 85 percent turnout for the presidential-gubernatorial election was expected.  Wider use of vote-by-mail, including King County this year, two much-debated statewide ballot measures, and assorted local races did keep the turnout in the more-than-50 percent range.

The 39 counties submitted their final certified tallies to the state Elections Division on Wednesday, and will be certified by Secretary Reed and Governor Gregoire next Tuesday. Statewide, the counties reported total turnout  of over 1.8 million voters. That was 50.88 percent of their registered voters. (more…)

Mail-in, Part II: Gov calls for speedier counts ?>

Mail-in, Part II: Gov calls for speedier counts

votescratchGov. Chris Gregoire, backed by House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, is urging lawmakers to assist counties in producing a faster count of election returns. That could mean requiring that ballots be in hand by the local elections office by Election Day in order to be counted.

Secretary of State Sam Reed has made that suggestion for the past two years, but the  legislation has generated little interest in Olympia.  On Monday, as the state’s largest city, Seattle, still awaits a final count for their new mayor, and over 140,000 ballots haven’t been counted statewide, a week after the election, Gregoire told a Capitol press conference she wants to work on ways to speed up the long drawn-out tally process in Washington state. That could include an Election Day deadline to return ballots, as Oregon currently requires. (more…)

Vote-by-mail: Just about all of us … ?>

Vote-by-mail: Just about all of us …

Based on preliminary numbers from Washington’s 39 county elections offices, it looks like about 99 percent of  us voted by mail in the November election.  That’s about as close as you can get to all vote-by-mail as long as Pierce County continues to allow poll-site voting.

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Under Washington law, the shift from poll-site voting has been swift. First, voters were allowed to sign up for no-excuse “permanent absentee” status, meaning they were automatically sent ballots every election. Tons of people picked this option.  Then the Legislature made it possible for each county to switch entirely to vote-by-mail — and the rush was soon on. County Auditors said it was a little cheaper – and a lot more popular with their voters, boosting participation.

(more…)

R-71 Part Deux: Will high court take up disclosure ban? ?>

R-71 Part Deux: Will high court take up disclosure ban?

The continuing court battle by foes of Referendum 71 to shield their petitions from public view stepped up a notch Friday with filing of papers formally outlining the reasons why they want the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case and uphold a disclosure ban.

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A 30-second recap: In September, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma agreed to Protect Marriage Washington’s request to block the Secretary of State from the scheduled release of over 9,000 R-71  petition sheets in response to public records requests.  In October, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Settle and said the state could release the records. A state judge, acting in a parallel case brought by initiative activist Tim Eyman, froze release of all petitions while litigation was afoot.

Protect Marriage Washington asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put the 9th Circuit decision on hold while a request for a high court review was drafted. The justices said fine.  On Friday, the official paperwork was filed with all of their reasoning spelled out. (more…)

R-71: Effective 12-3-09 ?>

R-71: Effective 12-3-09

123Media outlets have declared Referendum 71 approved by voters, describing it as the country’s first voter-ratified gay-rights measure.   As of Friday afternoon, the measure had an approval margin of nearly 71,000, or about 5 percentage points –754,180 to 683,320.  King County, which accounts for nearly a third of the electorate, was giving the measure an approval margin of over 150,000. King’s approval rate has been running 68 percent, and a number of the ballots remaining to be counted are from that county.

The referendum, placed on the ballot by foes of expanded rights for state-registered domestic partners, has been on hold since it was passed by the Legislature earlier this year. If the vote holds, Senate Bill 5688 will go into effect Dec. 3.  The election returns will be certified by Secretary of State Sam Reed and Gov.  Chris Gregoire, probably on Dec. 1, but under provisions of the Constitution, a bill referred to voters and approved takes effect 30 days after Election Day, or Dec. 3 in this case.

Graying of Washington’s electorate ?>

Graying of Washington’s electorate

ivotedFresh numbers from the Washington Elections Division show the number of younger voters dropping as a percentage of the electorate – and their elders, 55 and older, growing as a bloc.

The state has nearly 3.6 million registered voters.  The closely watched youngest voters have traditionally the lowest voter turnout rate of all segments of the population – a perplexing reality that keeps election outreach workers searching for ways to connect.  The new figures show that the pool of 18-to 24-year olds eligible for this week’s election was 9 percent of the total electorate, shrinking from 10 percent last year. 

The segments between 25 and 54 were little changed.  But the older voters, 55 and older, grew as a share of the overall electorate.

Here’s the grid provided by Elections’ David Motz, our registration whiz:

Age Bracket % of November ’08’s WA electorate % of November ’09’s WA electorate
18-24 yrs old 10.0 9.0
25-34 yrs old 15.4 15.4
35-44 yrs old 17.2 16.9
45-54 yrs old 20.9 20.7
55-64 yrs old 18.2 18.9
65 yrs and older 18.3 19.1
  100.0 100.0

Source: WA Voter Registration Database

After this year’s election is certified next month, we’ll be able to find out the turnout by age bracket. Last year, 18-24-year olds had a 68 percent turnout and each age segment had a progressively better rate, including an amazing 91 percent participation by folks 55 and older!

The voters speak … and keep speaking ?>

The voters speak … and keep speaking

ballot-photoAfter an “Election Day” that spanned nearly three weeks, the process of tallying the final vote will take still more time. As of this morning, ballots of 28.5 percent of the state’s 3.58 million registered voters have been counted.  That’s over a million ballots.  Tons more are being processed as we speak, and many more are still “in the mail,” since state law only requires that ballots be postmarked by Nov. 3.

How many people will have voted by the time counties certify their returns in about three weeks? Good question. The old rule of thumb is that you take the election night total and double it. That would make it about a 57 percent turnout — considerably higher than the 51 percent predicted earlier by the Secretary of State.  State Elections Director Nick Handy does offer the caveat that the old rule of thumb may need to be revised, because populous King County has switched to vote by mail and has speedy new tabulation equipment. King posted over 254,000 votes last evening — possibly half of the ultimate total – whereas the county typically takes days to catch up with the rest of the state.  King, of course, accounts for nearly a third of the state voters. The county plans to update numbers every afternoon at 4:30 p.m. (more…)

Keep your enthusiasm alive: vote! ?>

Keep your enthusiasm alive: vote!

voter3OK, it’s like asking you eat your vegetables (and not just that Halloween candy!), but From Our Corner adds this Election Eve plea – please vote.

As of Monday morning, the returns were described as light in King, Snohomish, Clark, Yakima, Spokane, Pierce and other populous counties, and moderate-to-wimpy in other locales.

It literally couldn’t get much easier to vote.  Except for a relative handful of polling places in Pierce County, we’re all voting by mail.  Your ballot literally came to your mailbox several weeks ago and it takes very little time and energy to mark the ballot and get it outbound today or tomorrow.  Sooner is better. If you’re using snail mail, make sure your ballot will be postmarked by Tuesday.  Some home pickups (like, uh,  in Olympia) are actually sent to a nearby town for postmark. And beware evil mailboxes if the last Tuesday pickup has come and gone when you arrive.

Better is to use an official county drop-box or county elections office before 8 p.m. tomorrow evening.  Sites can be located via the handy-dandy MyVote (click on icon). (more…)