Turn in primary ballots by Tuesday

Tuesday concludes the 2012 primary election in which voters are setting the field in contests for local, state and federal offices this fall.

The results also may determine whether two state Supreme Court justices keep their seats and the head of Washington’s public school systems keeps his job.

Until 8 p.m., ballots can be placed in one of the community drop boxes without postage or turned in at the county auditor’s office at 3000 Rockefeller Ave., in Everett.

If you are going to mail your ballot, make sure it is signed and postmarked no later than Tuesday.

One of the big attention grabbers on this ballot is the race for governor. Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna are widely expected to advance as underdog Republican Shahram Hadian of Everett tries to make his mark.

One of the most high profile contests in the county is in the 1st Congressional District where five Democrats, one Republican and one independent are battling to succeed Inslee.

Lone GOP candidate John Koster should grab one spot with Democrats Suzan DelBene, Darcy Burner, Laura Ruderman, Steve Hobbs and Darshan Rauniyar jostling for the other.

Today’s election will narrow the field in contests for the state’s attorney general, auditor, secretary of state, insurance commissioner and lieutenant governor. In Everett, voters will be picking two people to face off this fall for an open City Council seat. The job came open earlier this year when Councilman Drew Nielsen died in a rafting accident on the Green River in King County.

Under the rules for the state’s primary, the two candidates with the most votes will move on to the general election regardless of their political party. That means in some cases two people from the same party will face off in November.

Some issues will be determined. Mountlake Terrace voters will decide whether to back the sale of $25 million in bonds build a civic center.

Contests for superintendent of public instruction and judicial seats could be decided as well because state law exempts these races from the top-two requirements. In these races, if a candidate collects a majority of votes they will be the winner. However, the law requires their name to appear again on the November ballot for what amounts to be a ratification of their victory.

Supreme Court Justices Steven Gonzales and Susan Owens are looking to keep their seats while Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn is seeking his second four-year term.

Tuesday’s primary comes earlier on the calendar than ever before. Lawmakers moved it up from the third Tuesday of August to make sure there’s time to prepare and mail ballots to voters overseas and in the military for the November election.

This date change may be a reason why the pace of ballot returns is far slower than expected. Snohomish County election officials are hoping for a turnout of 44 percent but as of Monday morning only 16.4 percent of registered voters had sent their ballots back

Voters can use the county auditor’s website to make sure their ballot has been received. There’s a link at www.snoco.org/elections.

If you have questions about your ballot or voting in today’s election, call 425-388-3444.

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

Ballot drop boxes

Ballot drop boxes, listed on ballot inserts, are available at these locations:

Arlington: 135 N Washington Ave. (near the library)

Edmonds: 650 Main St. (near the library)

Everett: Snohomish County campus, Rockefeller Avenue and Wall Street

Everett: McCollum Park, 600 128th St SE

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

Lynnwood: 19200 44th Ave W (near the library)

Marysville: 1015 State St. (behind the Municipal Court)

Monroe: 1070 Village Way (near the library)

Mukilteo: 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd. (near the library)

Snohomish: 311 Maple Ave. (near the library)

Stanwood: 9701 271st St. NW (near the library)

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