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Editorial: Final thoughts in the week before the election

Some advice to help you choose your candidates, submit your ballot and learn about elections.

By The Herald Editorial Board

With a week remaining before ballots for the Nov. 8 general election are due in ballot drop boxes or the post office — and in the interests of encouraging participation in what is certain to be a consequential election at all levels for voters in Snohomish County — let’s review some information, resources and reminders that may be useful as you mark and submit your ballot.

Hey, who is this person on my ballot? Because of the state’s redistricting process that follows the federal census every 10 years, many voters in Snohomish County and the rest of the state may find themselves in a congressional or legislative district different from when they last voted. For example, most voters in the county’s eastern regions are now in the 8th Congressional District and the 12th Legislative District; as well, boundaries have shifted for almost all other districts, meaning those previously on the fringes of one district may have been moved into a new district.

Wondering where you’re at? You can check the state Legislature’s District Finder website to find out which congressional and legislative districts you’re in at app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/.

I know who I’m voting for, and my ballots marked and ready to go: Great. You’ve got two options: drop box of post office. Ballots can be mailed or placed in one of several county election office drop boxes. Ballots must be postmarked or placed in a drop box before 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8. A list of locations for official drop boxes is available at tinyurl.com/SnoCoVote22DropBox.

I’m undecided on a few races or are unfamiliar with who’s running: The good news is that each election in Washington state is an open-book test in civics, and you only fail if you don’t vote. Open up your ballot envelope and gather all the resources you need as you consider your choices. Among the resources, consult your local voters pamphlet — mailed to registered voters and also available online at voter.votewa.gov — and a series of recorded candidate forums available at the website of the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County. The League also offers its own advice on judging candidates as well as other sources of information.

The Herald Editorial Board has made its recommendations for most races on the ballot. Check the Oct. 30 Sunday Herald for a listing or go online to our recap with links to specific races at tinyurl.com/HeraldEndorses22.

How much attention should I pay to political advertising? Most of us can thank the campaign ads on television for having helped us hone our hand-eye coordination and reaction time as we grab for the remote and smash the mute button anytime those ads pop up.

We’ll temper our true feelings about campaign ads on television and radio and the mailers that cram our mailboxes — it is free speech, after all — but only a bit.

The ads and mailers should receive due scrutiny as you consider your vote. The ads, after all, are coming either from the perspective of one candidate — or just as commonly — from the perspective of a group that is more invested in a negative attack of a candidate the group opposes. So count on information that is incomplete, missing context and attribution and weighted to a particular viewpoint.

While it’s illegal under state law to sponsor false political advertising, the bar for what’s considered illegal is fairly high. To be considered false political advertising, according to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, the statement has to constitute libel or defamation, such as directly or indirectly implying that a candidate has the support or endorsement of any person or organization that the candidate does not have; is a false statement of material fact about a candidate; or falsely represents that a candidate is an incumbent. The hitch is that the statement has to show “actual malice,” requiring proof that the person or group had doubts about the truth or falsity of the statement.

In other words, check those statements in ads and mailers against what you’re seeing elsewhere in news coverage, in candidates’ past statements and on the records of the candidates involved.

How can I trust my vote has been accurately recorded and the election system is secure? It hasn’t helped that certain candidates, officials and groups have cast doubts on our election systems at the county, state and federal level, sometimes even before ballots have been cast and counted and the elections’ winners are announced. But some who lose would rather blame the refs than themselves.

Familiarity, in the case of our election system, doesn’t breed contempt — as the saying goes — but rather contentment; trust in the officials, employees and volunteers who run our elections as they always have.

The Snohomish County Auditor’s Office and its Elections Office invites county residents to learn more about the election process and observe it in action in the days before Election Day, through the counting of ballots and certification of the election. Now through the meeting of the county Canvassing Board to certify the results on Nov. 29, there are several opportunities to observe the preparation of ballots for scanning, ballot tabulation, audits and the Canvassing Board’s activities. More information, including links to short videos about the process, are available at tinyurl.com/SnoCoElexObserve.

One final bit of advice: Find that “I Voted” sticker and wear it with pride.

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