Washington’s 2016 Election voting period is under way, with counties mailing nearly 4.2 million ballots and awaiting a robust turnout of at least 80 percent.
A handful of counties sent ballots on Tuesday and nearly all the rest were scheduled to go out Wednesday and Thursday. Friday is the deadline for outbound mail. Deadline for a postmark is Election Day, Nov. 8, and drop boxes may be used before 8 p.m. that day.
A record 4,250,526 Washington residents are registered. About 72,000 military and overseas ballots were mailed by Sept. 24.
“We are seeing exceptional interest in this presidential-year election,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “Since April, more than 250,000 new voters have registered, including an unprecedented surge of 50,000 just before this month’s deadline for online, motor voter and mail-in registration.
“There really is something for everyone in this election. We have perhaps the most fascinating and unpredictable presidential race in history, with 24-7 news coverage. We also face the largest number of ballot measures ever, plus the big Sound Transit vote in three Puget Sound counties. The ballot also features congressional races, the fight for control of both houses of the Legislature, all nine statewide offices, the judiciary and many local races and propositions.
“This really is a watershed year in this country and this state and I urge every registered voter to take part. This is the prime opportunity for every voice to be heard.”
Wyman stressed that despite recent reports of Russian attempts to hack state election systems and attacks on “rigged” elections, “We have full and complete confidence in the integrity of our system. Elections professionals will treat every voted ballot will great care and security. Every vote will be tabulated as the voter intended.”
The state is working with cybersecurity experts and independent reviewers to make sure the system remains secure, and county tabulation systems are air-gapped and not hooked up to the Internet, said state Elections Director Lori Augino.
“We have multiple layers of security, both physical and electronic,” Wyman said.
Wyman and many county auditors are recommending that the 2017 Legislature adopt REAL ID legislation that will give election administrators a tool for assuring that voters who register document their citizenship, as required by state and federal law.
Although the presidential race has drawn much of the media and voter interest, voters will also choose the governor and other statewide elected officials. Five of the incumbents are not seeking re-election: lieutenant governor, treasurer, auditor, lands commissioner and superintendent of public instruction. For the first time, a statewide race will feature two finalists from the same party. Republican candidates for State Treasurer finished 1-2 in the Top 2 August Primary and advanced.
Voters statewide will ballot for U.S. Senate seat and a 10 U.S. House seats are up this year, including the 7th District, where the dean of the state delegation, Jim McDermott, is retiring and two Democrats emerged from the Top 2 Primary. In the 4th District, two Republicans are the finalists.
Most of the Legislature is on the ballot, too, including all 98 House seats and 26 of the 49 Senate positions.
Three state Supreme Court races are on the ballot, as are other judicial posts.
Six citizen initiatives await, including minimum wage, carbon tax, gun restrictions under “extreme risk” protection orders, campaign finance reform, identity protection for seniors and vulnerable individuals, and challenge of the Citizens United ruling. A constitutional amendment would set an earlier deadline for future redistricting. Two tax advisory votes also await.
The Elections Division recently mailed Voters’ Pamphlets to 3.3 million households in 32 zoned editions.
Looking for other ways to study the candidates and ballot measures?
• MyVote – Visit www.myvote.wa.gov to view your candidates and ballot measures.
• Online Voters’ Guide – View all state candidates and ballot measures online at MyVote.wa.gov. There are versions in English, Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese, as well as an audio version of the Voters’ Pamphlet.
• Video Voters’ Guide – Our Elections Division and TVW have again teamed up to offer the 2016 Video Voters Guide, which includes statements by candidates for federal and statewide offices, as well as the three state Supreme Court positions on the ballot, and pro and con arguments on the statewide ballot measures.