A portion of a sample of the November ballot. (Snohomish County Elections)

Longest ballot in 10 years will cost you 68 cents to mail

EVERETT — The race for president is the year’s biggest political contest but Snohomish County voters won’t find it on the front of their ballots.

Blame it on a larger-than-usual batch of statewide and countywide measures that by law must appear ahead of contests for any elected office in the Nov. 8 general election.

There will be 16 filling up the entire front side — seven statewide initiatives, seven amendments to the Snohomish County Charter, two advisory measures and a proposed revision to the state constitution.

The presidential contest will wind up on the reverse side, where it will be the first item atop the left column, according to a draft of the sample ballot provided by the county elections office.

“We were afraid that would happen,” said Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel. “This is the largest and longest ballot we’ve had in at least 10 years.”

There are so many items, three columns are required to get everything onto the 18-inch, double-sided sheet of paper. By comparison, the two-sided primary ballot had two columns and ran 19 inches long.

Out of concern people might look at the front side and not flip the ballot over, Weikel said they added some language to gently remind folks.

A sentence — “Vote both sides of ballot and remove stub” — was added on the top of each side.

And, on the bottom of the front, in red ink, is a reminder that reads “President and additional races on other side of ballot” followed by a red arrow.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Tuesday she had not yet heard of any other counties in the same situation as Snohomish County. But there may be more given the number of statewide ballot measures occupying the front side of the ballot.

“This is fairly unprecedented,” she said, noting the last time Washington had six citizen-sponsored initiatives on a statewide ballot was in the early 1990s.

The back side of ballots in Snohomish County will be packed, too. There are races for Congress, governor and eight other state executive offices as well as the state Supreme Court and legislative offices. Plus, depending on where one lives, a local measure or two.

In Everett, for example, there will be three amendments to the city charter. Also, the very last item is Sound Transit’s expansion plan known as ST3 which appears as Proposition 1.

Election pamphlets are scheduled to be mailed Oct. 8 to every household with a registered voter. Ballots should be sent out Oct. 20. They are due by Nov. 8.

Because of the ballot’s larger size, it will take more postage to return them by mail. Snohomish County officials said a mailed ballot will require $0.68 postage rather than the $0.46 — a single first class stamp — in the primary.

Voters can avoid paying postage by putting completed ballots in one of 12 drop boxes scattered throughout the county.

“We’ll want to work with the county to do some messaging to voters to use those drop boxes,” Wyman said.

In addition, the county plans to deploy two mobile drop box vans.

This will occur Nov. 6-8 in Darrington, Sultan, Granite Falls, Mountlake Terrace, the Quil Ceda Village administration building and the Everett Mall parking lot, Weikel said. Exact times and locations will be in material sent with the ballot and published in the local voters’ pamphlet.

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

Key dates

Oct. 8 — Voter pamphlets mailed.

Oct. 10 —Last day to register online or by mail and update existing registration.

Oct. 20 —Ballots mailed.

Oct. 31 —Last day to register in person.

Nov. 8 —Election Day.

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