WASHINGTON — There’s a lot riding on this year’s Aug. 7 Primary Election, but state records show that Pacific County residents have historically left these important decisions up to a tiny number of voters.
It’s too late to register to vote by mail, but eligible adults can register to vote in person until July 30.
Few deciding for many
Voter is generally highest when there’s a presidential election, and there are always more voters in the November General Election than in the August Primary, according to data from the Office of the Secretary of State. But readers might be surprised to learn just how few people participate in primaries.
In August 2014 — the last time there was a mid-term, even-year election, there were about 17,500 voting-age adults in Pacific County. Just under 13,400 of them — about 76 percent — were registered to vote, but only 5,788 people actually voted. That means that just 33 percent of the county’s adults exercised their right to vote.
Higher stakes in 2018
Washington uses a “Top Two” primary system. In races where there are more than two candidates, the two who receive the most votes move on to the General Election, regardless of which party they belong to.
The low turnout in 2014 wasn’t especially consequential because there were only two races with more than two candidates. Both were for representatives, who drew votes from the entire 19th Legislative District, rather than just Pacific County.
This year, the stakes are much higher because there are several races with three or more candidates. The Pacific County prosecutor, sheriff and commissioner races each have three candidates. Incumbent State Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen is facing two Republican challengers. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, is facing six challengers, including two other Republicans. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is facing a whopping 28 challengers, including one whose listed name is “GoodSpaceGuy” and Joey Gibson, a far-right activist from Vancouver whose “Patriot Prayer” group was at the center of a violent clash with “anti-fascist” activists in Portland in late June.
Important election dates and places
There are several important upcoming dates in the election cycle:
Thursday, July 19, is the last day write-in candidates can file.
Friday, July 20, is the first day of the 18-day vote-by-mail period.
Monday, July 30, is the last day to register to vote. Voters must register in person at the County Auditor’s Office.
Tuesday, Aug. 7, is the Primary Election, and last day to vote by mail.
The Pacific County Auditor’s South Bend office is located inside the courthouse at 300 Memorial Drive. It is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Long Beach office is inside the County Administration Building at 7013 Sandridge Road. It is open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, call 360-875-9317
If you are registered to vote, you can make sure all of your information is current by visiting weiapplets.sos.wa.gov/myvote/#/login.