A perk for early voters? Less campaigning

Let’s begin today with a shout out to the 35,717 voters of Snohomish County who have cast and returned their ballots to the election office as of Wednesday morning.

For them, odds of enjoying freedom from dinnertime door knocks of canvassers and prime time phone calls from machines are greatly improved.

As an astute reader reminded me this week, technology gives candidates and their campaign workers the power to figure out each day who’s sent in their ballots and who hasn’t. They won’t know how the ballot is marked, of course, but if you sent it back they will know you’re not worth bugging any more.

Besides, there’s lots more voters to keep getting after. What had been returned as of Wednesday represented only about 8.5 percent of the county’s registered voters — roughly a tenth of what officials anticipate to receive before the Nov. 6 election.

In the meantime, those done with their ballot can’t make television commercials magically disappear from the screen. For that you’ll need a remote. If you’ve made your choices, it’ll feel good to press mute.

• • •

Here’s something you might not have predicted this election. Those scouring the pages of the Snohomish County voter’s pamphlet for written arguments against a pair of tax increase measures are coming up empty.

That’s because no one penned an argument for defeating proposals for a property tax increase in Gold Bar or sales tax increase in Mill Creek.

Maybe sentiment against taxation is pervasive enough that simply reading the word “tax” in the title of a ballot measure is all voters need to know to make up their minds.

Or, maybe most voters aren’t hard-wired to oppose tax increases so the lack of a “con” argument in the pamphlet and organized opposition on the street can be seen a sign of voters’ willingness to weigh the increases on their respective merits.

It’s particularly interesting in Gold Bar where the one-year hike is literally about survival. Without the dough, a conversation about filing for bankruptcy and dissolving the city is certain to be rekindled.

There are vocal opponents, but none felt compelled to make their case in writing — free of charge — to every registered voter in the city.

Back in August Mayor Joe Beavers said he wasn’t surprised when no one responded to his public plea for volunteers to write an argument the measure.

“I think everybody understands the situation,” he said.

• • •

Leadership changes are coming to the Democratic and Republican parties in Snohomish County later this year regardless of what happens in the election next month.

Bill Phillips, chairman of the county Democratic Party for the past four years, is stepping down when his current term expires in December.

Precinct committee officers will elect a successor at the party’s annual reorganization meeting Dec. 7.

One of those seeking the post is Richard Wright, husband of Snohomish County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright and a member of the state party’s executive board.

Meanwhile, Bill Cooper, Phillips’ counterpart with the GOP, says “it’s a greater likelihood than not” he won’t seek re-election.

Republican PCOs would choose his replacement in December as well. It could be an interesting fight pitting supporters of Congressman Ron Paul and Rick Santorum versus backers of the ruling guard.

A number of Paul supporters won precinct officer positions in the primary with an eye to influencing the selection of chairmen for the county and state parties. They may get their chance.

About a third of the GOP precinct committee officers are said to be aligned with the Paul camp and there are an untold number of sympathizers as well. If they all turn out at the December meeting and those on the other side do not, a Paul devotee could be selected to guide the party.

Such a change could affect the local elections in 2013, which you can’t start worrying about until this one is over.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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