Deadline nears for last-minute voters

Ballots must be postmarked on or before Tuesday

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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The Columbian’s 2013 election articles and editorial endorsements are compiled at Election.

Turn in your ballot

To be counted, ballots must be postmarked on or before Tuesday. They also may be dropped off by 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Clark County Elections Office, 1408 Franklin St., or at a drive-up red ballot collection box one block east of the office.

There also are ballot drop-off locations at select schools and churches. For a list, go to Clark County Elections or read page 28 in the voters’ pamphlet.

Any other questions? Call the county elections office at 360-397-2345 or e-mail elections@clark.w...

Election night

Results will be posted on The Columbian's website and Clark County Elections will start broadcasting at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday from Clark College’s Gaiser Hall on Comcast Ch. 23 and live stream on CVTV.

Tuesday is the last chance for voters to have their say on city council races, school board positions, two statewide initiatives, several non-binding advisory votes, and who should help draft new rules for Clark County government.

Ballots for the 2013 general election must be postmarked on or before Tuesday or dropped in one of several designated locations throughout the county by 8 p.m. that night. Ballots that miss those deadlines will not be counted.

As of Monday morning, about 19 percent of registered voters in Clark County had returned their ballot, according to election officials. Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey is predicting a final turnout among registered voters at about 40 percent. Odd-year elections attract the fewest voters when compared with presidential or mid-term congressional elections.

On Monday, Kimsey shared some advice for last-minute voters. Instead of mailing their ballots today, the safest bet would be using the ballot drop-off locations.

“I would encourage people not to rely on the post office” if waiting to vote on Election Day, Kimsey said.

A list of ballot drop-off locations in Clark County is located on page 28 of this year’s voters’ pamphlet. Ballots also can be dropped off at the Clark County Elections Office, 1408 Franklin St., or at the drive-up red ballot collection box one block east of the office.

Clark County voters have a ballot that’s larger than usual. There are six nonbinding advisory votes placed on the ballot by Clark County commissioners, hoping to gauge public opinion on where to place a new bridge over the Columbia River, light rail and bus rapid transit, and limiting the use and sale of fireworks. There also are nonbinding statewide advisory votes on taxation that state lawmakers have already approved.

Voters will decide two statewide initiatives. Initiative 522 would require the labeling of many food products that contain genetically engineered food. The other, Initiative 517, would make it easier to get a voter initiative on the ballot by giving petitioners more time to gather signatures, and it creates penalties for interfering with signature gatherers.

Vancouver’s mayoral and city council races are being closely watched by the county’s political junkies.

Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt has drawn challenger Bill Turlay, who was elected to the city council in 2011. Leavitt’s opponents say the mayor is untrustworthy and flip-flopped his position on a toll bridge to Portland, while Turlay’s opponents paint Turlay as a Tea Party candidate and ally of Republican County Commissioner David Madore.

Even though council races are nonpartisan, the Clark County GOP has endorsed a slate of Turlay, Councilor Jeanne Stewart, Micheline Doan and Frank Decker. County Democrats, after saying they wouldn’t make endorsements before the August primary, gave thumbs-up to Leavitt, Alishia Topper and Anne McEnerny-Ogle. Stewart faces Topper, while Doan is challenging Councilor Jack Burkman and Decker’s running against McEnerny-Ogle.

Additionally, voters can elect members to a new board of nonpartisan freeholders who will work to draft a charter for a new county government. That charter must be approved by voters in a future election. More than 100 people are running for one of 15 unpaid freeholder positions. The boundaries split the county into three districts, and voters get to choose the five freeholders from their district.

Given the lengthy ballot, Auditor Kimsey is predicting that many voters will leave parts of their ballots blank. However, the rest of their ballots will still be counted.

“It’s an unusual ballot for people,” Kimsey said, but “it’s important to vote. You lose your power if you don’t vote.”

The first batch of preliminary election results will be announced by 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. In the days to follow, election officials will continue to count additional ballots that trickle in through the mail.