Half of county’s voters expected to return their ballots

EVERETT — Expect about half of Snohomish County’s eligible voters to take part in choosing among a slate of candidates in next week’s elections.

It’s an odd-numbered year, which typically means a paltry turnout.

The county Auditor’s Office is predicting 52 to 53 percent voter participation. In last year’s general election, nearly 72 percent of voters participated.

“Odd-year elections tend to be lower, which is unfortunate, because these are the positions that are making decisions that affect our daily lives,” Auditor Carolyn Weikel said.

The posts at stake will run city and county governments, shape children’s education and help set rates for services such as water and sewer.

In this election, all Snohomish County voters have a hand in picking the county executive for the next four years. It’s a choice between two-term incumbent Aaron Reardon, a Democrat, and state Rep. Mike Hope, a Republican. The incumbent county assessor faces a challenger as do the two County Council spots up for election.

Voters in Edmonds, Marysville and Arlington have choices about their next mayor and city council positions. Everett and other locales have city council races to consider. Thousands of people who live on the outskirts of Bothell get to vote on joining the city. Lynnwood voters get to decide on a mayor or city-manager form of government. Contested seats abound in races for school, water and other special-purpose districts.

There are three statewide initiatives, too: privatizing liquor sales, limiting road tolls and imposing more stringent regulations for long-term care workers.

No federal or statewide offices appear on this ballot. That’s coming in 2012, when it’ll be time for presidential and gubernatorial contests.

The Auditor’s Office mailed 385,577 ballots for the upcoming election. As of this past Tuesday morning, 14.7 percent had been returned.

Voters can help the auditor’s staff tally votes faster and less expensively.

One way is sending in ballots earlier. If you’ve already filled one out, feel free to drop it off. If you still need time to ponder issues or candidates, take your time.

“I’m certainly not going to encourage people to vote sooner than they feel comfortable voting,” Weikel said.

Correctly filling out the ballot helps. In Snohomish County, that means drawing a line toward the choice.

“You’d be amazed at how many people circle the candidates’ names or put a check mark by the candidates’ names,” Weikel said.

Write-in ballots cost elections staff time and energy to track, something to remember if you’re tempted to support Sponge Bob or Elvis.

To be counted, ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 8 or dropped at one of nine drop boxes throughout the county. The boxes are available 24 hours a day until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Two accessible voting spots are available to accommodate people with disabilities. One is the Lynnwood library on 19200 44th Ave W.

The other is the county’s main elections office on 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

Learn more

For more information, call 425-388-3444 or go to www.snoco.org/elections.

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