As you may have heard me say before, democracy is not a spectator sport. It’s hard to miss the presidential election and all the media. As a result, I expect voter turnout to reach 85 percent, a large increase over the 37 percent turnout we saw in the August primary. Many will be newly registered voters. In Thurston County, over 10,000 new voters registered between the 2015 general election and today. We expect to reach 174,000 total registered voters. It’s exciting to see our community participate in our democracy!
There has been much concern about election security. I’m proud our elections systems are secure and transparent. Our state-of-the-art processing equipment is air-gapped, meaning it doesn’t connect to the county network or internet. The Ballot Processing Center is entirely transparent in its workings, from capturing all activity on camera, to all processing occurring in open space with others around. It’s open to the public; watch the process first hand - I promise it will be interesting. Join us at 2905 29th Ave SW, Tumwater.
Voting at home allows voters the chance to study the candidates and issues. It’s important for voters to feel informed about what and who they vote for. Our voters’ pamphlet is a great resource to learn about the issues and candidates. However, it’s also important to know you don’t need to vote on every race. If you leave something blank, your other votes will count.
There is some confusion about the ballot choices in the Thurston County Commissioner races for Districts 1 and 2. This make sense since voters in the primary could vote only for the candidate for their own district. The primary narrowed the choices down to two in each race — Jim Cooper and John Hutchings in District 1, and Gary Edwards and Kelsey Hulse in District 2. In the general election voters throughout Thurston County, including the cities and the unincorporated areas, will be able to vote for a candidate in both the District 1 and 2 races.
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Once you are done voting, please use one of the 27 drop-boxes in Thurston County, or mail using only one first class stamp. Remember, if you vote early, you will miss a slew of political mail - what a great reason to vote as soon as your ballot arrives! But if you wait until the last minute, the Lacey and Olympia post offices will be open until 8 p.m. to ensure your ballot is postmarked in time.
Visit our website to learn more: www.thurstonvotes.org or call us at 360-786-5408.
Mary Hall is the Thurston County auditor.