In Our View: Cutting-Edge Elections

Washington is continually rolling out innovations that help voters

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Welcome to "Winnowing Day," our unofficial nickname for Primary Day, in which the top two vote-getters will be advanced by voters (with a few exceptions that we'll explain below) to the Nov. 6 general election.Washington runs perhaps the best elections system in the nation, using the top two primary that the parties hate but the people love, and continually rolling out innovations that keep us at the forefront and keep other states struggling to keep up.

Two of those cutting-edge developments were announced by state officials Monday. These are the kinds of customer-service technologies that make voters and taxpayers say, "Wow! That's cool. I'm glad our state is a pioneer in elections innovations."

First, Washington became the first state to offer a free Facebook app that allows people to register to vote. The app also can help registered voters access their personalized voter information, plus the location of ballot drop-off sites and contact information for elected officials. The MyVote app can be found at Washington State Elections/Facebook and Washington secretary of State.

The free app was developed at no public expense by Microsoft with input from Facebook, which does not collect information the user submits to MyVote.

How will this impact voting in our state? No one is sure, but the state estimates there are about 2 million residents who are eligible to register to vote. And there's a key deadline involved: Oct. 8 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 general election.

Monday's second cutting-edge announcement was a free app that will provide real-time elections results for iPhone and Android users. Of course, The Columbian would like to believe all voters wait breathlessly until results are posted on our website, or they wait for our print product to arrive the next morning. But reality whispers that some people want this kind of smart-phone access to vote totals for state, federal, legislative and judicial races.

This new app can be found by searching for "WA State Election Results" in the app store from your iPhone, or the Android app is available through Google Play.

For more information about both of Monday's announcements, visit Washington secretary of State.

As of Monday, 41,409 ballots had been received at the Clark County elections office. That's 17.6 percent of the ballots that were mailed, and about half of the turnout that local officials are projecting.

Remember, judicial races in which a candidate receives a majority of the vote will be finalized in the primary, and that is expected to be the case in two local and two statewide judicial races.

In addition to this year's innovations for voters, several time-worn advantages over other states are in effect. Topping that list is the fact that this is a top two primary in which no party is guaranteed a spot in the general election. On rare occasions since the system was implemented in 2008, two finalists from the same party have advanced. Whether that is good or bad is not the point. This is what the people wanted, and that is the point.

Also, we love the fact that in Washington voters do not register by party. That means all voters have access to all candidates in the primary.

With all of these great features in our state's voting system, it's hard to imagine why anyone would not participate. We agree with the topical observation Secretary of State Sam Reed made this past week: "In my book, casting an informed ballot really deserves a civics gold medal."