Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, who predicts the best midterm election turnout in four decades, said today that voters are fired up and that counties are expecting a flood of mail-in ballots this weekend.
Reed, who has spent most of his career managing elections at the county and state level, urged voters to “avoid the rush” and return ballots promptly so that there is no doubt about making the Tuesday postmark deadline.
“We welcome every single voter to take part in this very important election, and we want every single properly cast ballot to count,” Reed said. “I urge voters who haven’t returned their ballots yet to read up on the issues and races, and promptly return their ballots, either in the mail or in person at a dropbox or the county elections office.”
Reed predicts that 66 percent of the state’s 3.6 million registered voters, nearly 2.4 million, will take part in this year’s election. That would be the best participation rate since 1970.
“The voters are wide awake and paying attention,” Reed said. “This is being called a `wave’ or `change’ election across the country, and here in Washington, we have a hot Senate race that some pollsters say is too close to call and congressional seats that both parties are targeting. We also have six initiatives and record spending, which fuels a lot of attention and airtime. We have great local elections and legislative and judicial races.
“Top to bottom, it’s a very compelling election.”
Election Director Nick Handy underscored Reed’s point about the ballot measures being a drawing card.
“The ballot measures really reflect the issues of the day,” he said. “They are not on social issues like abortion, drug policy or gay rights, but are focused on economic issues like taxes, jobs and the role of government, the very issues that are on the minds of voters.”
The ballot includes six initiatives to the people, with spending that topped $60 million, and three measures placed on the ballot by the Legislature. Having six initiatives ties the modern record for greatest number in one year, and the combined total of nine ballot measures could be a record.
“We really have asked a lot of our voters this election in terms of doing their homework on so many ballot propositions,” Reed said. “I hope voters avail themselves of the state Voters’ Pamphlet, MyVote, the online and video voters guides, media coverage and other resources.”
Handy and Reed both commented on the avalanche of negative advertising this election cycle, and renewed the call for civility in campaigning and in governing.
“The voters expect and deserve better than they are hearing and seeing this campaign year,” Reed said.
The election season began several weeks ago, when ballots were made available. Nearly all voters will be voting by mail, since 38 of the 39 counties now conduct all elections by mail. A small portion of Pierce County’s electorate, an estimated 28,000 people out of 2.4 million expected voters statewide, will use polling places.