Moment of truth at hand for costly Washington initiative campaigns

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Columbian election coverage

Ballots are due by 8 p.m. Tuesday or must have a Tuesday postmark. A list of 34 staffed drop-off sites, including the Clark County Elections Office, 1408 Franklin St., are listed in the voter’s guide and at Clark County Elections.

Election results should be posted about 8:30 p.m. at The Columbian. Look for up-to-the-minute results on our Facebook page and by following us on Twitter at #ClarkVotes11. Comprehensive coverage will appear in Wednesday morning’s print edition.

OLYMPIA — The most expensive initiative campaign in Washington state history is coming to a close, with Tuesday marking the deadline for voters to have their ballots postmarked or returned to a drop-off site.

This year’s election is headlined by three statewide initiative campaigns, including Costco’s effort to privatize the state’s liquor system. Tim Eyman has an anti-tolling initiative on the ballot, while another measure would expand the use of training and background checks for long-term care workers.

Many local races are also up for a vote, including legislative vacancies in the Spokane Valley and Vancouver areas. Seattle voters are considering a new $60 fee for car tabs to help fund transportation improvements.

Secretary of State Sam Reed is predicting that about 47 percent of voters will return ballots, with the results from about half of those to be reported on Tuesday night.

“I would much prefer the turnout to be higher,” Reed said. “We have key races at the local level — for cities, schools, ports — that are all going to have a profound impact on lives, on homes, on families. In many cases, these will have a more direct impact than the more glamorous races next year.”

Reed suggested that voters submitting ballots on Tuesday take them to a drop-off site instead of putting them in the mailbox because a mailed ballot could get a late postmark.

Costco has committed a record $22 million to the passage of the liquor measure, and the company has drawn opposition that has spent about $12 million. The measure would shutter the state’s liquor system by June and begin allowing private retailers to sell liquor.

The measure is projected to bring in tens of millions of dollars more in revenues for state and local governments, according to a state analysis.

The Eyman initiative would force the Legislature to approve any tolls instead of giving that power to a commission. State officials fear that will make it impossible to sell bonds backed by tolls.

Eyman’s proposal would also have other major implications, such as barring light rail from running across the Interstate 90 bridge into Seattle.

The initiative for long-term care workers would increase the number of training hours from 35 to 75 and would require federal background checks instead of state ones. The care workers measure would cost about $18 million over the next two years, according to a state analysis. Lawmakers had delayed a similar plan because of budget cuts.