It’s election season! Here’s what you need to know this year to vote smart.
To the right is a table from the County Elections website. Ballots will be mailed October 8. The ballot drop boxes will be locked at 8 PM on November 3.
Your Voter Registration
If you are not yet registered to vote there’s still time. Click here to register online. The last day to register online is October 26, but you should plan to register as soon as you can. After that date, you can register all the way up to Election Day. For more information about voter eligibility, updating your registration, or canceling it, see this web page. This page also contains information useful if you would like to update your voter registration because of a name or signature change.
If you have moved or changed your name, click here to update your current voter registration online.
You can confirm your voter registration status online or by calling the County Auditor’s Elections team at (360) 786-5408.
From October 14 though November 3 the Elections Office has a service center opened. It is located at South Puget Sound Community College Mottman Campus, 2011 Mottman Rd SW, Olympia.
Your Ballot Will be Mailed to You, As Usual
As usual, if you’re a registered voter, your ballot will be mailed to you. Ballots should begin to arrive by about October 12.
Returning Your Ballot
This year, Thurston County Elections is advising voters to vote as soon as they can, rather than waiting closer to Election Day. According to this article, “When it comes time to count the ballots, there will only be 30 or 40 workers on the processing floor rather than the typical 80 to 100.” Your early return of a complete ballot will help the vote-counting effort.
No postage is required for you to mail your ballot. Mail it as far in advance of Election Day as you can.
Better than mailing, though, is to put your ballet into a neighborhood ballot drop box. There are 29 ballot drop boxes located throughout Thurston County. Here in the Griffin Area, there is a ballot drop box located in front of the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters. Click here for a map of other locations. “Ballot boxes provide a free, secure and convenient way for you to vote and ensure [Thurston County Elections] receive your ballot on time. You do not need a stamp to use a ballot drop box.”
Did you know you can confirm your ballot has been received? It’s true. It takes three to four days after you put it into the ballot drop box (more days if you choose to mail your ballot), but you can see your ballot status on the Washington Secretary of State’s website.
A printed voters’ pamphlet will be mailed on October 3rd.
If you would like to see an online version of the voters’ pamphlet, there are two. First is the pamphlet covering location elections. Thurston County Elections has prepared this voters’ pamphlet.
The County’s voters’ pamphlet includes information regarding the two County Commissioner seats up for election this year. These are for Districts 1 and 2. We live in District 3, but we vote on these positions, too, in the General Election; the candidates were chosen through primary elections in which we could not participate. The County’s voters’ pamphlet includes candidate statements and links to their websites.
For state and national elections information, the Secretary of State has this online voters’ guide. It includes details regarding two measures on the ballot, Referendum Measure No. 90 and Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution No. 8212, and four advisory votes regarding legislation passed in the last legislative session.
Our representative in the U.S. House of Representatives is up for election. We are in Congressional District 10. The incumbent is not running for re-election (he’s now a candidate for Lt. Governor).
There are contested races in many other statewide positions. Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Attorney General, Commissioner of Public Lands, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Insurance Commissioner all have incumbents running for re-election and each has at least one challenger.
The Secretary of State’s online voters’ guide also includes information about our representatives in the State House. We are in Legislative District 35. Both seats in the House are contested, with an incumbent running for re-election and a challenger.
These online voters’ guides are especially useful, since they also provide links to candidate websites and, in the case of Referendum Measure No. 90, links to the websites of the two organizations who submitted published statements in support and opposition to the measure.
As a voter, it can sometimes be challenging to make a decision regarding the judicial candidates. Just knowing what courts and positions will be on the ballot can sometimes help, as a start. Here in our part of Thurston County, we’ll find on our ballots candidates for four seats on the State Supreme Court. But only two of those are contested seats, Justice Position #03 and Justice Position #06.
We are in the Washington State Court of Appeals Division 2. There are two positions on the ballot, but neither of these are contested seats.
In Thurston Superior Court, there is one position, Judge Position 8, on the ballot. It’s a contested seat; there are two candidates vying for this position.
The state’s voters’ guide is a good place to review these judicial candidates. The website VotingForJudges.org also provides candidate ratings, for some judicial candidates, from various organizations.
Other Online Resources
The Public Disclosure Commission website can sometimes provide some illuminating information about who or what organizations are financially supporting a candidate or ballot measure.
Various public advocacy and special interest groups often post information about their endorsements, too.
What resources do you find useful as you research your choices before filling out your ballot? Leave your suggestions at the bottom of this page. Or check out our Facebook Page, for suggestions left by readers there.