July 3, 2008

By Staff

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Summer’s here, but it’s time to vote

Summer is a great time to relax, but in just a few short weeks, voters will need to get back to business and prepare for the Aug. 19 primary election. Last year, the state kicked its long-standing September primary to the curb for its first August election. What that means is absentee ballots will be in the mail beginning July 30.

Voters need to keep in mind that among local and state elections, primaries are extremely important. Many of the most important decisions affecting local, county and state government are made during the dog days of summer.

The election winnows the field among candidates and sets the stage for the November general election ballot. The state Supreme Court races are often decided in the primary. If one of the candidates receives more than 50 percent of the ballots cast, he or she advances unopposed.

Those who plan to be on vacation in mid-August should consider applying for an absentee ballot. Everyone should consider adding a candidate forum to their list of summer activities, and adding the voters pamphlet to the list of good summer reads. To get a jump start, the elections department has a copy of the primary ballot on its Web site.

Residents who aren’t yet registered have even less time to get involved. Register online or by mail by July 17 to vote in the August primary. Or sign up in person by Aug. 4 at the King County Elections Office in Renton.

Online at www.metrokc.gov/elections you’ll find forms to register or apply for an absentee ballot.

To vote in Washington, you must be a U.S. citizen, a legal resident of the state, at least age 18 by election day and not have had a felony conviction. You do not have to declare a political party to vote in the state’s primary or general election.

Historically, voter turnout has been a national disgrace, although record numbers turned out for presidential primaries across the nation earlier this year. The average election turnout in presidential elections barely tops 50 percent. School levy elections and primaries have even fewer voters. You can take the first step in turning that around.

So, pack the voters pamphlet along with the sunscreen as you hit the beaches and lakes this month.

Embrace democracy by becoming a 1) registered and 2) informed voter, and then be sure to vote.

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