Election signs line a section of Mukilteo Blvd. in Everett. (Sue Misao / Everett Herald)

Election signs line a section of Mukilteo Blvd. in Everett. (Sue Misao / Everett Herald)

Massive voter turnout marks end of volatile election year

With so much at stake up and down the ballot, turnout is expected to eclipse 75 percent.

EVERETT — A midterm election super-charged by partisan passions comes to a close Tuesday.

Democrats incensed by the policies of Republican President Donald Trump are looking to give their party a foothold in Congress and greater majorities in the Legislature.

Ballot measures dealing with climate change, gun control, deadly police force and taxes have added fuel to the political fire, producing predictions of higher-than-normal turnout.

Tens of thousands have joined the voter rolls around the state since the primary, including 7,500 in Snohomish County.

An estimated 37.3 percent of voters statewide, or 1.6 million, had returned their ballot as of Friday afternoon, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. In Snohomish County, 32.6 percent, or 149,189, had done so, putting it on pace to achieve a turnout at or above 75 percent, which would eclipse the 2010 and 2014 midterms.

Much of the electoral energy is generated by national politics. Republicans may lose their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives due in part to a backlash among Democrats to the path blazed by the president.

It’s essentially shaping up to be the reverse of what occurred in 2010, the first midterm after the election of Barack Obama as president. Republicans crushed Democrats and took control of the House of Representatives.

“The opposition party thinks the sitting president is destroying the country,” said Chris Parker, a political science professor at the University of Washington.

In Washington, three GOP-held seats are on the bubble.

Republican U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, of Spokane, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Vancouver, are facing strong challenges from Democratic candidates Lisa Brown, Spokane, and Carolyn Long, Vancouver.

Republican Dino Rossi of Sammamish is in a fierce battle with Democrat Kim Schrier to succeed Congressman Dave Reichert, who is retiring. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on a marathon of television commercials.

In the Legislature, Democrats hold majorities of 50-48 in the state House and 25-24 in the Senate and are looking to add to those numbers.

One of the year’s priciest political battles in Washington involves Initiative 1631, which would impose a fee on carbon emissions on some large emitters. If passed, it would be the first time voters in any state put a price on pollution.

Opponents — chiefly oil refiners — have spent $30 million to defeat the measure. Supporters — led by national environmental groups — have expended nearly $15 million.

Backers say the fee will bring in an estimated $2.3 billion in the first five years to be spent on building new clean energy projects, improving the health of forests and waterays, and helping low-income families pay their utility bills.

Foes say the consumer will end up paying higher prices for gasoline, natural gas and electricity. Supporters don’t deny that residents will shoulder some of the cost, just not as much as opponents contend.

Other initiatives include 1639, which would raise the age to buy a semiautomatic rifle and hold gun owners criminally liable if they fail to safely store their firearms; 1634, which would prevent cities from imposing a Seattle-style soda tax or another type of fee on ingredients of groceries; and 940, which would rewrite the state law governing the use of deadly force by police.

You have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to put your ballot in one of the 18 designated drop boxes in Snohomish County or to take it directly to the county auditor’s office in Everett. If you mail it back, no postage is needed because the state and county are covering the cost. If a ballot is not postmarked on or before Tuesday, it won’t be counted.

For assistance with any last-minute issues, call the elections office at 425-388-3444.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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