Washington’s General Election is under way. About 65,000 military and overseas ballots were going out by Saturday, Sept. 20, many of them sent electronically, and those voters are able to begin voting as soon as they receive their ballots.
The other 3.8 million registered voters will be getting ballots and Voters’ Pamphlets by this time next month. The 18-day voting period kicks off Oct. 17.
Ballots can be voted any time after they are received. They may be returned by mail, in person, or by using a county-supplied dropbox. Postmark deadline is Election Day, Nov. 4; dropboxes may be used until 8 p.m. Election Day. Results will be available online and via smart-phone apps after 8 p.m. Election Night.
Deadline for online and mail-in voter registration is Oct. 6.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman is forecasting a 62 percent voter participation for the mid-term election, or roughly double the turnout in this year’s primary. The 62 percent figure is lower than the turnout for the two previous midterm elections (71 percent in 2010 and 65 percent in 2006), primarily because this year we have no U.S. Senate
race to spur public attention and media coverage/advertising. In both 2010 and 2006, a Senate race was on the ballot. The turnout in 2002, the last midterm election without a Senate race, was 56.4 percent.
Secretary Wyman said turnout should be better than the 2002 cycle because:
–Three statewide ballot propositions are drawing heavy attention – two involving gun sales background checks and the other mandating smaller K-12 class sizes.
–A number of areas of the state have hot congressional (especially the open 4th District) and legislative races, judicial contests and local races and propositions.
–The state will be voting entirely by mail, unlike the previous midterm elections, permitting an 18-day voting period at the convenience of the voter. Postage-free use of dropboxes has become a increasingly popular and secure way to vote.
The Secretary added:
“As usual, the only turnout percentage that would truly satisfy is 100 percent. It’s true that the midterm election doesn’t have statewide partisan elections, such as Senate or Governor this year, but there are still many, many important issues to decide and leaders to elect. I strongly urge everyone study up on the issues and be counted. We have loads of good information online and in our Voters’ Pamphlet and the media, TVW and campaigns will be supplying information for you to take into account.”
Wyman and state Elections Director Lori Augino said state and county election administrators have a special spot in their hearts for the military and overseas voters who will be getting their ballots any day now.
Wyman, who has made advocacy for military families and veterans a signature issue, said military and overseas ballots can be sent and returned by email or fax, and that they will be accepted until the counties need to certify the election.
“As a military wife myself, I can remember how much voting meant to us when we were stationed in Germany,” Wyman said. “It is an important tie to back home.”
“We in Washington pride ourselves on making sure our military and overseas folks have good options for receiving and returning their ballots. We encourage these voters to cast their ballots as soon as they get them – don’t wait.”