In Our View: On Tuesday, Speak Up

Off-year elections aren’t usually this exciting; voters have several reasons to participate

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Tuesday’s election will carry more importance than usual in Clark County. Traditionally, off-year elections have no presidential or other partisan races. But this year in the 49th Legislative District (Vancouver west of Interstate 205, and most of Hazel Dell), there’s an exception: Democrat appointee Sharon Wylie and Republican challenger Craig Riley are battling to replace state representative Jim Jacks, who resigned earlier this year. And countywide, there’s Proposition 1, which seeks a sales tax increase (equivalent to 2 cents on a $10 purchase) to preserve C-Tran services.

These are just two reasons The Columbian urges voters to exercise their freedom and either mail their ballots or take them to a ballot drop-off site Tuesday. In addition to the Columbian’s editorial endorsements published earlier, we have two other suggestions. First, to be sure your ballot is postmarked by the Tuesday deadline, we suggest mailing it by Monday. Second, if you’re going to be in downtown Vancouver, take your ballot to the drop-off box on 14th Street, one-half block east of Franklin Street. It’s available 24/7.

Even if you’re not in the 49th Legislative District, Tuesday’s election presents races for city councils, school boards, port commissioner and other offices.

And if it’s statewide influence you’re seeking, five ballot measures are offered. These include three initiatives dealing with privatizing liquor sales, training long-term care workers and tightening regulations on transportation funding, plus two proposed amendments to the state constitution.

State and local election officials predict a voter turnout in the mid-40-percent range. Secretary of State Sam Reed said Friday: “We may not have exciting statewide or national races to vote on this year, but the election still is consequential. … Voters in the Spokane Valley and Vancouver area will fill legislative vacancies … .”

There’s also a rare sentimental reason to vote. This will be your last chance to vote in your current legislative and congressional districts, as currently configured. Boundaries are being redrawn as affected by the 2010 Census. And for those interested in statewide trivia, this is the first election conducted entirely by mail. Legislation earlier this year required Pierce to become the last of 39 counties to use vote-by-mail.

Today’s editorial, so far, has dealt with the present. But here are two points — one short-term, one long-term — to ponder about the future. First, state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, has announced he will run for state auditor next year. Open races (no incumbents) always lure plenty of candidates, although we wonder how many people will want to deal with the Legislature’s funding woes. How this 49th District race unfolds will be interesting.

Second, Reed expects the state to continue moving toward elections with ballots submitted by email. Lingering security concerns must be addressed, but this, too, will be a story worth following.