Turnout is expected to rise for August primary

July 17, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

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

Reed made the turnout prediction July 12, about a week before ballots started to reach voters.

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.”

In the Issaquah area, voters must select the top candidates for state House of Representatives and U.S. House of Representatives seats, in addition to selecting hopefuls for judicial and statewide posts.

The ballot also contains a King County property tax measure, Proposition 1.

King County Council members placed a $200 million property tax levy on the ballot to fund a replacement for the aging Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility in Seattle.

Elections administrators across Washington already mailed ballots to military and overseas voters. Ballots should start to arrive in other voters’ mailboxes in the days ahead. 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 averaged 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.”

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

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 launch pad for the autumn campaigns for governor and other state and federal offices.

“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.

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

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