Primary ballots arriving at a trickle

So far, only about one in every four voters on the Harbor have cast their ballots for the primary election, which allows voters to narrow the field of candidates and determine the top two who will vie for county commissioner, the PUD commission, Congress and other races.

Library users in Ocean Shores are also worried about passage of a library levy “lid lift” to save the library. Without the extra tax, the library could very well close, city officials have said. There are also levy issues for the city of Westport, Fire District 3, Fire District 5, Fire District 11 and Fire District 14.

The election is also critical for statewide non-partisan races, such as judges or the superintendent of public instruction, because if a candidate gets 50 percent or more of the vote in the primary, that candidate advances to the General Election unopposed.

Both Democrats and Republicans are gearing up get out the vote efforts this weekend to help lift the voter turnout even higher, with a special emphasis on “Super Saturday” before Tuesday’s primary election.

Grays Harbor Auditor Vern Spatz says about 7,000ballots have been dropped off or mailed into his offices since ballots were first mailed out on July 19. About 21 percent of the 37,121 ballots sent have been returned, Spatz said.

“It’s really coming in slow,” Spatz said. “About the only county in the area not seeing a decline is Pacific County. But, if you look at Mason County or even the bigger counties like Pierce and King, the ballots are just trickling in.”

By Friday, 4,220 ballots had been returned in Pacific County. That’s a 32 percent turnout of the 13,259 ballots issued.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Sam Reed urged voters not to forget to vote.

“This is one of those watershed election years, and the action begins with the primary. There are lots of great races that should interest just about everyone,” Reed said. “This is one of the most interesting election seasons in years. We encourage every registered voter, even the busiest people and those of us who are glued to the Olympics coverage, to take part. It’s our duty and our privilege. In my book, casting an informed ballot really deserves a civics gold medal!”

Reed earlier predicted a 46 percent statewide turnout and Spatz said he thought Grays Harbor may do even better than that, but Spatz said he’s not too sure now.

“If you have a ballot sitting at home or at your desk, just don’t forget about it,” he said.

Ballots must be postmarked or dropped off for the primary by Aug. 7. Each county has designated 24 hour drop-off boxes at their county courthouses. Grays Harbor also has a new 24-hour drop-off box at the Grays Harbor YMCA in Hoquiam. Voters can also drop off their ballots inside the auditor’s offices during normal business hours.

Spatz said the new box at the YMCA is seeing some use but people are still not used to it being there.

On Election Day, there will be ballot drop-off sites inside the YMCA, as well as the Ocean Shores Convention Center, the McCleary VFW, the Oakville Methodist Church and the Westport council chambers. Ballot drop-off locations, including the auditor’s offices, are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.