Voters in Washington state will vote in the Aug. 2 top-two primary and the Nov. 8 general election. (Sue Misao / The Herald file photo)

Voters in Washington state will vote in the Aug. 2 top-two primary and the Nov. 8 general election. (Sue Misao / The Herald file photo)

Editorial: New districts, more make for vital election season

Voters should check to see if they’re in a new district and prepare for consequential elections.

By The Herald Editorial Board

The grizzled saying has always gone: If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.

Not that that hasn’t stopped most who don’t bother to cast a ballot, but you can add a new twist to the adage, following the nationwide 2020 census and the redistricting of Congressional and legislative boundaries: If you don’t vote you might not know to whom to complain.

With the state Legislature’s acceptance of new boundaries for Congressional and legislative districts in February, the next step in the election process was completed at close of business Friday with filing for political office for the 2022 elections.

Among the choices that Snohomish County voters will be making — first with a top-two primary election on Aug. 2, followed by the general election on Nov. 8 — are races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, state legislative races for House in all districts and Senate in select districts, Washington’s secretary of state, Snohomish County prosecutor, a Snohomish PUD commission seat, state Supreme Court justice posts and county superior and district court judgeships. You can see a complete list of who has filed for which posts at voter.votewa.gov/Candidate List.aspx?e=877.

Along with new names among the challengers for specific posts, many voters in Snohomish County might find that even the names of incumbent representatives have changed for them.

Boundaries for most legislative districts in the county shifted somewhat, moving some residents into a new district, but many in the eastern portion of the county will notice they are now represented by a district completely new to the county: the 12th Legislative District, which includes Chelan County and a portion of northeastern King County.

Likewise, boundary lines for the 1st and 2nd Congressional districts saw significant shifts, compacting the 1st District into a narrow band mostly east of I-5 in Snohomish and King Counties, with the 2nd District picking up much of the 1st’s former territory in Skagit and Whatcom counties. At the same time, eastern Snohomish County, along with a new legislative district, will now be represented by the 8th Congressional District, joining Chelan and Kittitas and portions of King and Pierce counties.

To pinpoint your Congressional and legislative districts, voters — and prospective voters — can go to tinyurl.com/FindYourWaDistrict and enter your residence’s address.

Now that you know your district, we’ll repeat our usual pre-election plea for participation. If you’re registered to vote, mark your ballot and get it in, by drop-off box or mailbox; no postage necessary. If you’re not yet registered, you now have until each election day to register. If you’ve moved, you’ll need to update your registration. You can register and update registration at VoteWA.gov, in person at the Snohomish County Elections office at the county administration building or by mail by sending a completed form, to Snohomish County Elections, 3000 Rockefeller Ave, M/S 505, Everett, WA 98201.

Voter turnout has run hot and cold in recent years. It reached a near-record high for 2020’s presidential election with 85.1 percent turnout in the county, but cooled off significantly in last year’s general election — where city council and other local races were decided — to just short of 36 percent.

Midterm Congressional races and the potential for state initiative measures could help turnout this year; participation for the last non-presidential midterm in 2018 hit just over 70 percent in the county.

Every election is important, of course, but voters should feel added motivation this year for a range of reasons. Voters in Snohomish County and Washington state should want to make sure to cast ballots because:

After years of outstanding leadership on election security, access and integrity issues by former Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who stepped down to take an election post with the Biden administration, voters will be asked to ratify Gov. Jay Inslee’s choice to complete that term: former state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, or chose a new secretary from among seven challengers.

State lawmakers in recent years have passed far-reaching legislation, including reforms to education financing, policing, climate change, the environment and more and will continue that work, but lawmakers also are expected to take up possible reforms in the next two years to the state’s slate of taxes, criticized on the left for a regressive sales tax and on the right for unfair business taxes.

And control of either House, Senate or both in Congress is on the line. Democrats hold the slimmest of majorities in both chambers, and redistricting holds the potential for pushing one or more of the more “purple” House districts in the state — especially the 8th District — from Democratic control to Republican.

As always, informed voters are crucial to our participatory democracy. Fortunately, voters can consult a wealth of resources, information and guidance as they consider their ballots. The Daily Herald, of course, will be following races and profiling candidates. As well, The Herald Editorial Board will continue its practice of interviewing candidates as well as supporters and opponents of initiatives and referendums and publishing endorsements for most races.

Voters also can check in with the Snohomish County League of Women Voters for its schedule of candidate forums.

Finally, a few — specifically those coming out on the losing end of elections — have been quick in recent years to question the integrity of elections and the staff and volunteers who make our elections possible. Those who have questions about our elections should familiarize themselves with the process, including the precautions taken and standards followed to ensure fair and accurate elections. One sure way to do so firsthand is to register and vote.

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