Quarter of county’s voters have turned in ballots

About 1 in 4 Snohomish County voters is done with the 2012 election, which is rolling merrily along toward a Nov. 6 conclusion.

As of Tuesday morning, 108,754 ballots had been returned, amounting to 26 percent of those registered to vote in the election.

While the volume of incoming ballots is not setting any records, Snohomish County auditor Carolyn Weikel is confident the final turnout figure in this election will be one of the best ever.

She is predicting 85 percent of the county’s 400,000 registered voters will participate. If she’s right, it will be below than the 87 percent mark of 2008 but better than the 84.3 percent in 2004 and 79.4 in 2000.

“My figure may be a little bit high,” she said Monday. “The way the races are lining up with everything being so close, I think it’s going to pull people out.”

There is a host of provocative decisions for voters beginning with the presidential contest.

Washington voters also will choose a new governor and determine the fate of ballot measures to allow same-sex marriage, legalize marijuana, permit charter schools and reimpose a two-thirds requirement for tax increases on lawmakers.

Secretary of State Sam Reed is forecasting a statewide turnout of 81 percent. This would be less than the 84.61 percent showing in 2008 but above the 79.2 percent that the state has averaged since 1952, according to figures compiled by Reed’s office.

“It is true that there have been an avalanche of TV and radio commercials for months, blanket news coverage for the past year and heavy spending by the campaigns,” he said earlier this month. “But the thing that drives turnout is whether you have compelling races and ballot measures that people care about. We have that this year, big time.”

In Snohomish County, even if the turnout percentage is down, the number of residents casting ballots may wind up higher this year than in any previous election. That’s because there are more registered voters than ever before.

Registration had edged above 406,000 as of Monday morning compared with 372,636 in 2008, according to county records.

An 85 percent turnout would mean 345,100 people cast ballots, more than the 324,179 tallied four years ago.

Thus far, there have been no major hiccups in the conduct of the election, Weikel said.

There’s even been less confusion than expected among voters whose ballots allow them to make decisions in two congressional races rather than the usual one.

Democrat Jay Inslee’s resignation from Congress to focus on his contest with Republican Rob McKenna for governor created a one-month vacancy that voters in the old boundaries of the 1st Congressional District will fill. Those voters also will be casting a ballot for a representative in the district in which they now live.

“We’re still getting some calls,” she said. “The voters seem to be less confused. Most people are reading the voters pamphlet which explains the situation.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

24-hour drop box locations

Arlington: Near the library at 135 N. Washington Ave.

Edmonds: Near the library at 650 Main St.

Everett: On the Snohomish County Courthouse Campus at Rockefeller Avenue and Wall Street and at McCollum Park, 600 128th St. SE.

Lake Stevens: Near the city boat launch at 1800 Main St.

Lynnwood: In front of Lynnwood City Hall at 19100 44th Ave.

Marysville: Behind Marysville Municipal Court at 1015 State Ave.

Monroe: Near the library at 1070 Village Way.

Mukilteo: Near the library at 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd.

Snohomish: Near the library at 311 Maple Ave.

Stanwood: In additional library parking at 9701 271st St. NW.

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