King County Elections records strong voter participation

April 17, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Though the deadline for the April 17 special election is history, King County Elections officials continue to reach out to voters to resolve signature issues on ballots from the all-mail contest.

Staffers compare the signatures on returned ballot envelopes against the signature on file in voter registrations. If the elections office receives unsigned ballots, officials attempt to contact the affected voters 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 in a statement.

What to know

King County Elections mailed ballots to voters in late March. Track ballots online at the King County Elections website, www.kingcounty.gov/elections. Follow the “Track your ballot packet” link.

Join The Issaquah Press at www.issaquahpress.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/issaquahpress and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/issaquahpress for the latest information and results from the April 17 special election.

Officials said more than 54,000 voters returned ballots for the special election by April 12 — more than the average at the same point in other 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 involved in the election.

The elections office started to receive marked ballots days after the office mailed blank forms to voters in late March.

The agency started processing ballots upon receipt, but law prohibits elections staffers from tabulating results before 8 p.m. Election Day. In the run-up to the deadline, staffers open ballots and check voters’ signatures in a secure location at the elections headquarters in Renton.

In the Issaquah School District, the electorate faced 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.

In addition to the Issaquah School District, school districts in Mercer Island and Renton also put bond measures before voters on the April 17 ballot. Enumclaw, South King Fire & Rescue and the Auburn Transportation Benefit District sent measures to voters as well.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.
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