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Editorial: Some final thoughts on the general election

You have only a few more days to mark your ballot and return it. Not voting silences your voice.

By The Herald Editorial Board

With just a few days remaining for Snohomish County voters to mark and return their general election ballots, now would be a good time for voters to retrieve their ballots and at least make plans to complete them this weekend.

More than a few of you out there haven’t; as of Thursday morning, about 12 percent of the more than 475,000 ballots sent to registered voters in the county had been returned.

Herewith are some final straggling endorsements, tips and reminders.

Why bother? No, you’re not electing a president, members of Congress or even state legislators in this election. This may be more important; these off-year elections involve decisions that most directly affect you in your communities and your daily lives as you choose those who represent you as mayors and at county posts, in city councils, school, fire, port and other boards as well as ballot measures that will have a lasting effect statewide.

A ballot left unsent is a lost opportunity for your voice to be heard. Don’t silence yourself.

Senate Joint Resolution 8200: Voters are asked to consider an amendment to the state Constitution that would add “catastrophic incidents” to emergency situations where the Legislature would have to take immediate action to ensure the continuity of state and local governmental operation. The state Constitution allows such actions now only in the event of an enemy attack.

The authority to suspend some constitutional procedures and protections would be expanded to include natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other events with “extraordinary” levels of mass casualties, damage or disruption that would severely affect communities, infrastructure, the economy and government functions.

There’s reason for caution in any decision that involves the rights of state residents regarding their participation in government decisions, but it’s hard to see much difference in the need for measures that assure government operation whether the catastrophe involves an attack by a foreign government or terrorists or a natural disaster.

Voters should approve the constitutional amendment.

Statewide advisory votes: Voters will find 12 ballot measures listed as “advisory votes” regarding legislation passed by state lawmakers earlier this year. But take the word “advisory” with a grain of salt. The results, whether to repeal or maintain legislation regarding taxes, carry no discernible weight and don’t require lawmakers to reconsider their decisions. The measures are essentially a poll.

The only benefit: Explanations for each in the state voters guide offer a recap of some of the Legislature’s actions this year.

As always, voters do get a say in these matters, courtesy of elections for state legislators every two years.

Fireworks advisories: Here, the word advisory actually fits its definition. Voters in unincorporated areas of the county and in Arlington are being asked whether the Snohomish County Council — or the Arlington City Council — should enact ordinances that would prohibit the discharge of consumer fireworks. The measures are nonbinding, but will inform those councils’ decisions.

The Herald Editorial Board is recommending a yes vote in support of bans of fireworks use, joining other such bans in several cities. Fireworks use has literally and figuratively exploded in recent years: The county’s 911 agency received 585 firework complaints in 2013 and just over 600 in 2014. By 2017, the number of complaints — to 911 and non-emergency numbers — totaled more than 1,000. Those calls more than tripled to 3,081 this year, Sno911 has reported.

That use has contributed to a mounting list of serious injuries and property damage, which this year included a lost hand, a mangled leg and a barn lost to fire, as well as brush fires.

The use of fireworks is likely to continue, but local government shouldn’t encourage their use with even brief windows of legal use. Leave the fireworks displays — and the explosives — to the professionals.

They’re not running: Voters in two county school districts are reminded that while the names of two candidates’ names appear on the ballot, they have told election officials and media outlets that they are no longer running for office.

For Lake Stevens School Board, District 1, Jason Call has withdrawn from the race; leaving the election to David Iseminger.

For Stanwood-Camano Island School Board, Position 2, Keith Pappas announced he had dropped from the race, leaving the election to Charlotte Murray. Another school board member, board president Al Schrieber, has confused the matter by endorsing Pappas, potentially in a bid to allow the board to appoint a successor if Pappas were to be elected. A review of Murray’s candidate statement in the county voters guide shows her to be an involved member of community and schools and worthy of voters’ support.

That’s a wrap: A summary of The Herald Editorial Board’s endorsements for the general election will be available online on HeraldNet by Friday evening and in Sunday’s Herald.

Ballot deadline: Ballots must be returned to county drop boxes or mailed and postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 5. For a list of drop box locations go to tinyurl.com/SnoCoElexBallotDropBox. Ballots returned by mail do not need postage.

Not registered? Those who have yet to register to vote or need to change their address can do so up to the day of the election, but must go to the county Elections Office. For more information on elections and voting to to tinyurl.com/SnoCoElections.

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