Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts above-average turnout for August primary

July 12, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 11:45 a.m. July 12, 2012

The top elections official in Washington, Secretary of State Sam Reed, predicted above-average turnout in the August primary election — 46 percent, or 3 percent more than the last comparable election.

The summer primary — bumped up to Aug. 7 to accommodate military and overseas voters — allows local voters a chance to decide a property tax measure and cull the field in federal, judicial, legislative and statewide contests.

The electorate selects the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

“The people of Washington are pretty revved up by the campaigns and issues this year and that should result in a darned good turnout, starting with our primary election,” Reed said in a statement. “We have an extremely competitive presidential race nationally and the media, campaigns, parties and special interest groups have been flooding us with campaign coverage and voter information.”

Elections administrators across Washington already mailed ballots to military and overseas voters. Ballots should start to arrive in other voters’ mailboxes late next week. Voters must postmark ballots by Aug. 7 or drop ballots at a designated location by 8 p.m. Election Day.

Since 1988, turnout for state primaries averages 43 percent.

“As always, I hold out hope that turnout will be even better than I am predicting,” Reed said. “After watching democracy on the march around the world, and people’s enthusiasm for casting their ballots, I am struck more than ever with just how significant a privilege it is to vote. This is the first presidential election year where all counties have moved to vote-by-mail and we offer assistance to voters with handicaps, and we’re doing significant voter outreach.”

The upcoming election includes the primary in the race to select Reed’s successor.

The candidates include Democrat Kathleen Drew, a onetime Issaquah state senator and former aide to Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Drew received state Democrats’ endorsement in the race after outpolling former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Puyallup state Sen. Jim Kastama among party activists. Though the candidates all appear on the August primary ballot, only Drew earned the party’s nod.

Republicans closed ranks behind Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman. Reed, a Republican, endorsed Wyman for the post.

The primary also acts as a launchpad for the autumn campaigns for governor and other state and federal offices.

“Likewise, in this state, we have one of the nation’s hottest races for governor and we have an unusually high number of open statewide elective offices, including governor, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor,” Reed said.

Redrawn political boundaries — put into place after Census 2010 — also go into effect for the August and November contests.

“Washington voters also will be electing three brand new members of Congress, following our redistricting and retirements of incumbents,” Reed continued. “A U.S. Senate seat is on the ballot and people are already buzzing about our ballot measures that are on tap for November. Our Legislature, the courts and other important state and local offices also offer lots of excitement. Some judges, including the Supreme Court, essentially can be elected in the primary by taking more than 50 percent of the vote.”

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