Turnout lags so far in Whatcom elections


2013 elections


Voter turnout for the Nov. 5 general election appears sluggish so far in Whatcom County, according to data provided by county Auditor Debbie Adelstein.

As of Friday afternoon, Nov. 1, the Auditor's Office had received 26,857 ballots out of the 126,950 sent to registered voters, or 21 percent.

Four days before Election Day in both 2009 and 2011, turnout was 26 percent, according to data provided by Adelstein. Final turnout in 2009 was 54 percent and in 2011 was 59 percent.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman predicted a turnout of 51 percent, in line with recent turnouts for off-year general elections statewide.

It's hard to draw conclusions about voter interest, Adelstein said, because every election has different races, initiatives and bond measures. The 2011 election included races for Bellingham mayor and county executive.

The ballot this year includes contested races for city councils, Whatcom County Council, the Bellingham School Board and Port of Bellingham; school and parks bonds; two statewide initiatives; and advisory votes on tax increases approved in 2013 by the state Legislature.

An unprecedented amount of money has gone into the County Council campaigns. Coal and conservation groups have funded independent campaigns because the council may decide whether to permit a coal export terminal at Cherry Point. Total spending on all four races was $893,362 as of Friday, Nov. 1.

Voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, to turn in their ballots at drop-box locations throughout the county. Voters also may mail their ballots but should do so no later than Monday, to ensure they are postmarked by the Tuesday deadline, Adelstein said.

Ballots may be turned in at the following drop-box locations:

-- Blaine Library, 610 3rd St.

-- Deming Library, 5044 Mount Baker Highway.

-- Everson WECU, 106 E. Main St.

-- Ferndale City Hall, 2095 Main St.

-- Lynden Library, 216 4th St.

-- Meridian Middle School, 861 Ten Mile Road.

-- Whatcom County Courthouse south parking lot, 201 Grand Ave., Bellingham.

-- WWU Bookstore, 501 High St., Bellingham.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics Blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldpolitics.

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