Time to vote: Ballots are in the mail

Voters are tackling big questions in the much-anticipated midterm election.

EVERETT — The wait is over for Snohomish County voters.

Ballots for the Nov. 6 election will be mailed Thursday to 459,700 registered voters.

There are big questions to tackle ranging from carbon taxes and gun control, to the makeup of the Legislature and the method of deciding how Everett City Council members are elected.

The high stakes are fueling a surge of interest in this fall’s political classic.

Since the August primary, 5,500 new voters have registered in Snohomish County. That is a larger increase than was recorded between the primary and general elections in 2014 and 2010 midterms.

And the number will continue to climb as people can register in person at the county Auditor’s Office through Oct. 29.

“And they keep coming,” Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel said of new voters Tuesday.

Weikel is projecting a turnout of 75 percent, which would be better than in the last two midterm elections, and double the participation rate for the Aug. 7 primary.

“There’s a lot of talk about this midterm election,” she said. “People are engaged. It feels good.”

Atop all ballots are statewide initiatives that would create a new fee on pollution-causing emissions, impose new restrictions on the sale of semiautomatic rifles and storage of firearms, ban local governments from enacting new taxes on food, and rewrite the laws governing use of deadly force by police officers.

Also, voters throughout the county will weigh in on the race between three-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican Susan Hutchison, the former leader of the Washington State Republican Party.

Three Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives whose districts include Snohomish County are up for re-election.

Rep. Suzan DelBene faces Republican Jeffrey Beeler in the 1st Congressional District, Rep. Rick Larsen takes on Libertarian Brian Luke in the 2nd, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal duels Republican Craig Keller in the 7th.

For the Legislature, there are 14 seats in the House of Representatives and another five in the Senate representing Snohomish County.

In Everett, Tyler Rourke and Liz Vogeli are competing for a seat on the City Council.

Everett voters also will decide whether to begin electing a majority of the seven-person City Council by districts rather than all of them getting chosen citywide.

Proposition 1 on the ballot in Everett would switch to district elections. Proposition 2 asks voters to decide which format should be used. One option is electing four council members by district and the other is choosing five.

Other matters include a construction bond measure in the Arlington School District, a countywide increase in the retail sales tax to fund improvements in the emergency communications system and an emergency medical services levy in Everett.

To be counted, ballots must be returned by or postmarked no later than Nov. 6. They can be placed in a designated drop box. Or, like the primary, they can be mailed back without a stamp because the county will cover the cost of postage.

Elections staff is working hard to remind voters that if they plan to mail in a ballot, to be aware of the last pick-up time for the post office box they use. It won’t be counted if it arrives late, even if the postage is paid, Weikel said.

In the primary, 2,155 ballots cast in the county arrived too late to be tallied.

If you are registered and do not receive a ballot by Oct. 25, call the auditor’s office at 425-388-3444.

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

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