Local Election

Election Day registration and other things to know about the Aug. 6 primary

With a little more than a week before the Aug. 6 primary election, voters should either mail their ballots by Tuesday, July 30, or consider using a ballot dropbox.

To be valid, ballots must be postmarked — not just mailed — by 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, the symbolic poll-closing time for Washington state’s vote-by-mail election.

Diana Bradrick, who is chief deputy auditor for Whatcom County, said the U.S. Postal Service recommends that voters allow seven days for a postmark.

But you won’t have to hunt for a stamp. Postage is free in Washington state’s vote-by-mail election.

After Tuesday, Bradrick urged voters to use free ballot dropboxes that are available at 18 locations in Whatcom County until 8 p.m. Aug. 6.

Bradrick said in an interview with The Bellingham Herald that delays are possible because mail from Bellingham goes to a processing center in Redmond for a postmark before it’s returned for local delivery.

She said it’s frustrating to see ballots arrive in the mail with a postmark that’s late.

“It’s terrible,” Bradrick said. “They’ve gone to the effort of voting and we want their vote to count. It’s really disappointing for all of the staff and the canvassing board. We just keep looking for ways to get the word out.”

About half of Whatcom County voters wait to mark their ballots until the weekend before the election, Bradrick said.

How to register

Online and mail-in voter registration and address changes must be received by Monday, July 29.

In-person registration and address changes continue until 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Aug. 6, in the Auditor’s Office at 311 Grand Ave.

Auditor Debbie Adelstein said in-person registration goes faster if residents download and complete a form from the Secretary of State at sos.wa.gov beforehand.

Did you get a ballot?

Ballots were mailed July 17 and Bradrick said that voters who haven’t received a ballot should contact the Auditor’s Office to get a replacement and see if they’ve been put on a list of inactive voters.

Inactive voters are still registered and can still vote. Bradrick said they’re most likely on the list because their ballot has been returned as undeliverable.

Those who haven’t received a ballot should go to the Auditor’s Office in the County Courthouse at 311 Grand Ave., call 360-778-5102 or email elections@co.whatcom.wa.us.

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Accessible voting

Accessible voting units for blind and visually impaired people are available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday through Aug. 5 and from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug . 6, at the Auditor’s Office.

Election Day registration

U.S. citizens who are 18 and older can vote, register to vote, or change their address in person at the Auditor’s Office, 311 Grand Ave., until 8 p.m. on Election Day — a new rule this year to encourage voter participation.

All that’s required to register is a Washington state driver’s license or state identification that’s issued to those who don’t drive, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

About the election

This primary election focuses mostly on municipal offices in Whatcom County, Bellingham and the other incorporated cites, plus fire protection districts and other local governing agencies.

There’s a vote for the 40th District State Senate seat, because Sen. Liz Lovelett was appointed to fill a vacancy.

In races where more than two candidates are competing, only the top two candidates will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

A total of 146,972 county residents were registered to vote through July 24, Bradrick said. Some 9,961 voters were on the inactive list.

Find a sample ballot and a voter information guide online at the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office and at the Washington Secretary of State’s Office.

Check to see if your ballot has been received online, or call 360-778-5102 or email elections@co.whatcom.wa.us.

Ballots must be postmarked — not just mailed— by 8 p.m. Aug. 6, or placed in one of 18 ballot dropboxes by that time.

Remember to sign your ballot.

Election results will be available at the Auditor’s Office website after 8 p.m. Aug. 6.

Follow more of our reporting on News and information for voters in Whatcom County

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Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.