King County reports strong participation in April 17 election

April 13, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 8 a.m. April 13, 2012

King County Elections officials said more than 54,000 voters returned ballots for the April 17 special election by Thursday — more than the average at the same point  for special elections.

The elections office mailed 236,000 ballots to voters in the districts participating in special elections. Officials expect a 34 percent return rate, or about 80,000 ballots for the half-dozen government entities participating in the special election.

In the Issaquah School District, the electorate faces a choice on a $219 million school construction bond in the election. (The school district stretches from Preston to Newcastle, and from Sammamish to Renton.)

In order to pass, the measure needs to receive a 60 percent yes vote from a minimum turnout of 12,229 voters.

Issaquah School District officials opted not to pay to include a voters’ pamphlet alongside ballots.

The bond measure attracted broad support from community and government leaders.

City Council members in Issaquah and Sammamish endorsed the proposal. So did the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

The last measures the school district put before voters, a 2010 levy package, garnered more than 60 percent of the vote — 66 percent for a maintenance and operations levy, 64 percent for a transportation item, and 66 percent for a technology and repairs levy. Turnout reached 40 percent in the February 2010 special election.

Voters can return completed ballots at a drop box or through the mail. Mailed ballots require a 45-cent first-class stamp.

The elections office opened a ballot drop box at Issaquah City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way. The ballot drop box in Issaquah and other locations countywide remain open until 8 p.m. April 17.

King County Elections staffers compare the signatures on returned ballot envelopes against the signature on file in voter registrations. If voters return unsigned ballots, officials attempt to contact the affected voter to resolve the problem. Signature problems must be resolved before the election is certified April 27.

“So far, voter turnout has been a little higher than we anticipated, which is very positive,” King County Elections Director Sherril Huff said. “There are still a lot of voters who haven’t yet voted and I’d like to encourage them to sign the return envelope and get it back to us by April 17.”

In addition to the Issaquah School District, school districts in Mercer Island and Renton also put bond measures before voters. Enumclaw, South King Fire & Rescue and the Auburn Transportation Benefit District also sent measures to voters.

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