On Tuesday, with less than a week to go before the Aug. 5 primary election, the Thurston County Auditor’s Office had received just 22,113 ballots. In other words, of the county’s 162,900 currently registered voters, only 13.6 percent have returned their ballots.
Come on, people. We can do better than that.
More than 42 percent of the county registered voters returned ballots in the 2010, the last primary election held midway through a presidential term. Based on Tuesday’s count, with just seven more days to mail a ballot before the Election Day deadline, it looked like we’d fall short of even that miserable rate of democratic participation.
Declining voter interest in this year’s primary races seems to be a national malaise. In the 25 states that have already held primary elections, voting was down by 20 percent from 2010. Fifteen states set new lows. Iowa and Nevada sunk to below 10 percent.
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Even Oregon and California recorded historic low voter turnouts for a mid-term primary, even through voting by mail makes it convenient to cast a ballot,. We hope Washingtonians will break the trend.
Thurston County voters should have several compelling reasons to mark and mail their ballot by Tuesday, Aug. 5. The Olympian editorial board has offered recommendations in the race for two positions in the Thurston Public Utility District, and on the important Lacey Fire District 3 Proposition 1 measure.
For the District No. 1 position, challenger Dennis Pulsipher, 59, has the best skill level the PUD needs to make complex decisions. Pulsipher also has the clearest vision of the PUD’s most critical issue: it’s long-term viability.
Pulsipher, a Thurston County resident since the 1980s has held positions as deputy chief appraiser in Thurston County and similar high-level positions in Pierce County and the state Department of Revenue. He is the chief appraiser for King County
His community service record is impeccable: 14 years coordinating teems to cook meals for people who are homeless, five years teaching English to refugees and three years of spending Sundays visiting area nursing home residents without nearby families.
For the District No. 2 position, the incumbent Russ Olsen, 39, has earned a full term. He was appointed to a two-year term after the late Alan Corwin resigned. He’s pushed the PUD to develop a master asset inventory plan and is leading a telecom initiative in conjunction with Lacey, Tumwater and Olympia.
LACEY FIRE DISTRICT 2 PROPOSTION 1
Voters in Lacey and rural Fire District 3 should vote “yes” for Proposition 1 to maintain the existing level of fire and emergency medical services. The fire district is keeping Station 35 open to serve Hawks Prairie residents and 12 firefighters on the job with two federal grants. One has expired and won’t be renewed. The status of the other remains uncertain.
If this levy fails, as it did in 2011, commissioners would have to close the station and lay off a dozen firefighters/first responders. This could cause a hike in home insurance rates, and longer response times for medical emergencies. There could life threatening consequences.
For the average cost to a homeowner of about $30 a year, maintaining these services at existing levels is a bargain.