Washington’s long-awaited General Election is underway.
Over 3.85 million registered voters are being mailed their ballots by their county elections office, starting Wednesday, and the official Voters’ Pamphlet already has arrived in most Washington homes.
Voters are free to mark and return the ballots just as soon as they wish, Secretary of State Sam Reed noted today. Postmark deadline is Nov. 6, although Reed strongly recommended that voters get their ballots in the mail several days ahead of that so their ballots are definitely postmarked on time. Another increasingly popular option are county ballot drop boxes. Each county also has at least one centralized voting center for voters with handicaps; other voters also may use the facility.
Since Washington switched to vote-by-mail, the state no longer has poll-site voting. The state has some of the best voter participation in the country.
Reed said he’s expecting a strong turnout this year:
“The presidential/gubernatorial election year always has the best turnout, and this year really has something for everyone. We have a presidential race that is essentially tied at the national level and an open governor’s race that is very close and hotly contested.
“Four of our eight partisan statewide offices are wide open, including governor, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor, and we’re having our first election ever for the new 10th Congressional District that we were awarded after the 2010 Census. We’ll also elect new legislators, fill a U.S. Senate seat, elect our judges, and decide numerous local issues and races.
“And our ballot measures! We have probably the most exciting assortment in the country this year — including everything from same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana to charter schools and supermajority for taxes. I expect the initiatives to draw hordes of both supporters and opponents.”
Katie Blinn and Shane Hamlin, state elections co-directors, said there is a wealth of solid voter information available, in addition to the print and online voters’ guides from state and county governments. A great online voter information vault, called MyVote, is also a great place to get customized voter information via the Elections Division site, or www.myvote.wa.gov. State races also are featured on the Video Voters’ Guide from TVW and the state Elections Division.
Online registration is closed for this election, but new registrations may be obtained in-person at your county elections office by Oct. 29. Blinn said people can try to avoid long lines by not waiting until Oct. 29.