Ready, set, vote: Primary ballots will be arriving this week

Same-day registration will be in place. And the state will be using a new election management system

EVERETT — It will look a lot like an election in voter mailboxes this week.

Ballots for the Aug. 6 primary will be sent Thursday to roughly 460,000 registered voters in Snohomish County.

Also this week, the county will mail out voters’ pamphlets containing photos and statements of candidates competing for seats on school boards, fire commissions, city councils and the County Council.

Voters in Snohomish County will be considering candidates for 28 local offices and deciding which two hopefuls will advance to the Nov. 5 general election. Eight local measures also populate the ballot.

One of the most closely watched contests is for the District 2 seat on the County Council. Democratic Councilman Brian Sullivan is term-limited and eight people — seven Democrats and one Republican — are vying to succeed him.

In Edmonds, four people are vying to replace Mayor Dave Earling when he steps down at the end of the year. In Mukilteo, four council seats are up this year and there’s a contested primary for each one.

Five people filed to run for the Marysville City Council position now held by Rob Toyer, a Republican, who is running for county treasurer. Sullivan, the outgoing county councilman, is also running for the treasurer’s job.

This primary heralds a new era for elections in this state.

For the first time, a person will be able to go into any county election office in Washington on Aug. 6, register to vote, get a ballot and cast it. Same-day registration is the result of a law enacted in 2018.

Another change this year allows a person to register online or by mail up until eight days before the election. The old cut-off deadline was 29 days prior to an election.

And this will be the maiden voyage of VoteWa, a new statewide voter registration and election management system.

A rough transition from the old system to the new one has led some auditors to publicly voice concern that it isn’t up to the task. They worry ballots will not get sent or arrive at the wrong address. They’re anticipating a need for a lot of troubleshooting.

Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel said while there’s been bumps in the process of changing over “people will get their ballots.”

If a person does not receive a ballot by July 24 and believes they were supposed to get one, they should call the auditor’s office, said elections manager Garth Fell.

Weikel said she’s waiting to see how the new system handles same-day registration. If things go as designed, when a person registers to vote, election workers will be able to tell immediately if they are registered anywhere else in the state. If it doesn’t go smoothly, and eligibility cannot be cleared up, the person will cast a provisional ballot that would be counted when everything is sorted out.

Getting the results starting on Election Night shouldn’t be a problem, Fell said.

“We have the same reliable and trusted vote-counting system,” he said. And for those worried about security, it is not connected to the Internet so it cannot be hacked, he said.

Turnout could be as high as 28 percent, he said. That would be an improvement from recent odd-year primaries. Two years ago, participation was 24 percent and in 2015 it was 23 percent.

Ballots must be returned or postmarked no later than Aug. 6 to count. You can mail it back without a stamp because the state will cover the postage. Ballots also can be placed in one of the county’s 19 designated drop boxes. Those will be open every day up until 8 p.m. Aug. 6.

For more information, contact the elections office at 425-388-3444.

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

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