Ballots trickling in, but officials expect a surge

EVERETT — The ability to vote early isn’t garnering many takers so far in Snohomish County.

Only 11.4 percent of 418,000 ballots issued for the Nov. 4 election had been returned by Monday afternoon.

Still, Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel is keeping to her prediction that turnout will reach 53 percent when all votes in the mid-term election are counted.

“I really hope the Snohomish County voters are just waiting and will be sending their ballots in,” she said. “But it’s not just Snohomish County. Statewide, we’re all low.”

Indeed, only 10.6 percent of ballots issued around the state had been turned in Monday morning, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Like Weikel, Secretary of State Kim Wyman is sticking with her prediction that 62 percent of Washington voters will cast ballots.

“She continues to think we’re on track,” said agency spokesman David Ammons.

Election officials never expected a huge turnout because Washington’s ballot does not have a contest for a U.S. Senate seat or statewide office, which typically attracts gobs of spending and national attention. A similar situation last occurred in 2002, when turnout was 56.9 percent in Snohomish County and 56.4 percent statewide.

This year’s ballot does have three statewide initiatives — two dealing with guns and one with education. Backers are spending bunches of money on television ads and hundreds of hours into getting out supportive voters during this final week before the ballot deadline.

Initiative 594 would expand state law to require that background checks be conducted on nearly all private sales of handguns, including online and at gun shows. Today, background checks are conducted only on sales by federally licensed firearms dealers.

Initiative 591, a countermeasure, would prohibit the state from enacting a background check law that exceeds federal law.

A third measure, Initiative 1351, would require the state to shrink the size of classes in all public elementary and secondary grades by the fall of 2018.

Indecision on the gun-related ballot measures might be a cause of the slow pace of returns, Weikel said.

“I think people are thinking about them and are confused about them and waiting for more information about them,” she said.

To be counted, ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 4 or placed in a designated drop box by 8 p.m. on election day.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;

Where to drop ballots

Voters can avoid paying postage by putting marked ballots in any of the drop boxes in Snohomish County by 8 p.m. Nov. 4.

Ballots can also be dropped off at the County Auditor’s office, on the first floor of the Snohomish County Administration Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett. The office will accept ballots from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Nov. 4.

Drop-box locations:

Arlington (near library), 135 N. Washington Ave.

Edmonds (near library), 650 Main St.

Everett (Courthouse Campus), Rockefeller Avenue and Wall Street.

Everett (at McCollum Park), 600 128th St. SE.

Lake Stevens (near the city boat launch), 1800 Main St.

Lynnwood (in front of City Hall), 19100 44th Ave.

Marysville (behind Municipal Court), 1015 State Ave.

Monroe (near library), 1070 Village Way.

Mukilteo (near library), 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd.

Snohomish (near library), 311 Maple Ave.

Stanwood (near library), 9701 271st St. NW.

More info: or call 425-388-3444.

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