Tuesday’s primary election is likely to register more than 36 percent voter turnout when all the ballots are finally counted statewide.
State election officials had hoped for at least a 40 percent turnout, knowing that would be a stretch for an election that lacked a statewide contest. They’ve lowered their prediction slightly as the votes keep trickling in.
Voter turnout for the primary elections in other states has been even less encouraging: Maine, 10 percent; Illinois, 18 percent; Texas, 11.4 percent; California, 25 percent and Oregon — which usually tracks closely with Washington — 36 percent, according to state election officials.
Such poor voter turnout here and around the country is disheartening, especially as we witness the madness and mayhem in countries that lack open, democratic governments. Taking our right to vote for granted is an act fraught with peril.
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At least voters in Lacey Fire District No. 3 can feel good about their strong showing on behalf of Proposition 1. Two-thirds of the voters supported a six-year tax renewal to help keep Hawks Prairie and Yelm Highway fire stations open. Proposition 1 backers ran a strong, compelling campaign, and dimmed the memories of failed fire district levies in 2008 and 2011.
The primary election turned into a nail-biter for state Sen. Tim Sheldon, the maverick Democrat from Mason County who finished second in a three-way race in the 35th District. With some votes left to tally, he had about a 600 vote lead over conservative Republican Travis Couture and trailed the more traditional Democrat, Irene Bowling, by about 600 votes.
Chances are, given his legislative alliances with Republicans, he’ll pull a lot of Couture votes in the general election, all but assuring his victory in November, and all but assuring another Majority Caucus Coalition in the Senate controlled by the Republicans.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court validated this state’s “Top Two Primary,” which sends the top two vote-getters from the primary to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. In 2014, results from several state race and one federal race reflected that decision.
The 4th Congressional District in Eastern Washington featured a field of a dozen candidates vying to fill the seat held for 20 years by retiring Republican Congressman Doc Hastings.
For the first time in state history, two Republicans in a congressional race advanced to the general election, leaving the Democratic Party on the sidelines. The candidates are former state agriculture secretary Dan Newhouse of Yakima, a GOP establishment fixture and Clint Didier, an Eltopia farmer, tea party member and former NFL player.
The 2014 primary election is behind us. But there’s still time to register to vote in the November general election, and to become informed on the issues and candidates. Do it. Do it to show gratitude for those who came before us and won our right to vote. Do it to safeguard freedom and democracy for those who will follow.