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With Week Left, Ballots Trickling in from 3 Largest Counties

Elaine Thompson
Associated Press

With one week until Election Day, voters in Washington’s three largest counties have been slow to return their ballots. But officials also say it’s too early to tell what that means for Election Day.

In King County, just more than 9 percent of registered voters have returned their ballots. Pierce County has seen 11 percent of the ballots while Snohomish County has seen just 8 percent.

True, there’s about a week before you have to have your ballot postmarked, “but we don’t want folks to wait so long that they can’t have their ballot counted, says Lori Augino, director of elections for the state of Washington.

Ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 5 or returned to a drop box by 8 p.m. that day.

“We don’t want anyone to wake up on Nov. 6 and see that ballot on their kitchen table and realize, ‘Oh, shoot, I should have had that postmarked yesterday,” Augino said.

Off-year elections—when we’re not voting for the president or Congress members, or even the governor—often have lower turnouts. This year, the pace is even slower than other off-year elections, say county officials. Augino says that’s too bad, since the people we choose in local elections make decisions that directly affect most voters.

“These are folks that are passing laws that are going to impact the taxes you pay, for the roads you drive on, for the schools that your kids attend. These are decisions that are made here locally that have the greatest impact on your lives,” she said.

Augino says there are lots of reasons we wait to return our ballot. Those who run the elections just hope we don’t wait too long. 

Ed Ronco came to KNKX in October 2013 as producer and reporter for KNKX’s Morning Edition. Ed started in public radio in 2009 at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska, where he covered everything from city government, to education, crime, science, the arts and more. Prior to public radio, Ed worked in newspapers, including four years at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, where he covered business, then politics and government.