Elections are right around the corner, and unlike elections in the past, I am not worried about how to schedule time to vote.The primary election is on Tuesday, Aug. 6, and I have already sent in my filled out ballot. Have you?
King County voters will weigh in on four ballot measures and 218 candidates in 56 races. Ballot measures for Maple Valley and Covington residents include King County’s Proposition 1, also called the Parks, Recreation Trails, and Open Space Levy; and the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority’s Proposition 1, also called the Levy for Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services.
King County residents will also vote this primary for two different Port of Seattle seats. Candidates for those seats include:
While the City of Covington, the City of Maple Valley and the Tahoma School District all have candidates running in opposed races, none of them include more than two candidates so voters will not have to decide on those races on Election Day, since the state uses a two-primary system.
In the past two years I have been exceedingly impressed by how accessible and easy voting is in King County, and the state. Back in my home state of Idaho, Election Day was a big event. And like many big events, it included extra planning, long lines and confusion.
Election Day is always on a Tuesday (which we all learned in civics class), which was a work day for a majority of registered voters in Idaho. Unless you were disabled, a veteran serving overseas or some other qualified voter, you could not mail in your ballot or vote before Election Day. Instead you had to wait until the special day, find your specific voting location (based on your address), wait in line between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and cast your choice in these tiny cardboard booths with a pen and paper.
I regret to say I was not always the most informed voter. A majority of my voting experiences in Idaho including me going “what the heck is this?” or “who even is that?” when looking at my ballot on Election Day. I’d make a wild guess and pick a choice on levy measures, hoping the tiny bit of information my ballot gave me was enough.
Also registration was a pain. You could only register through election offices in Idaho or on the state’s website. If you wanted, you could register at the polls on Election Day but you had to bring in your state-issued ID along with a bill with your address to prove your residence and then you had to fill out some extra paperwork at the polls.
It may be easy to see why voting turnout is low in Idaho.
So when I moved to Washington with my husband in 2017, and I was offered easy voter registration at the DMV I was blown away. What kind of service was that?
Then, when we received a voter pamphlet in the mail my husband and I stared at each other in awe. Unbiased information about every candidate and ballot measure sent to me hassle free? Divine.
And then the ballots came. To be honest, I almost threw them away because I didn’t realize what they were. But it was so exciting that first time voting in King County. Sitting at my table in my apartment next to my husband, we’d read to each other the pamphlet and debated candidates and issues before putting pen to paper. Then a couple weeks later we’d excitedly look at the polling numbers to see if our choices made the cut.
So when I recently saw the low voter turnout numbers in our area during primaries and off-year elections, I couldn’t help but wonder if voters weren’t being a little spoiled.
Local elections are the heart of your democracy. Issues that directly affect you and your family are debated and decided on by your councils and local leaders. Your tax money is directly affected by the levies and bonds proposed on these ballots. The state of your schools, parks, infrastructure and environment depends on your vote.
Please remember to vote during your primary and general elections. Ballots must be mailed in by Election Day, Aug. 6, or turned into ballot box locations.
In Covington, ballots can be dropped off at the Covington Library located at 27100 164th Ave. SE. For Maple Valley voters, ballots can be dropped off at the Tahoma School District Building, 25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd SE.
Make a difference in your community by helping your friends and family register to vote, then mailing in your ballots by Election Day.