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Monday, June 5, 2023
June 5, 2023

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Early election turnout low as Clark County voters so far show little interest

By , Columbian staff writer
2 Photos
Drivers line up to drop off ballots at a Clark County ballot drop box in the Vancouver Mall parking lot in 2020. Voter turnout is shaping up to be low in this off-year election.
Drivers line up to drop off ballots at a Clark County ballot drop box in the Vancouver Mall parking lot in 2020. Voter turnout is shaping up to be low in this off-year election. (The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

It’s Election Day, at last. But it seems many Clark County residents aren’t that interested in this year’s races. According to Elections Supervisor Cathie Garber, the county had received 54,309 ballots as of Monday afternoon. That’s only 16.74 percent of the more than 324,000 eligible voters.

“Special district elections, or odd-year elections, tend to have a much lower turnout than even-year, midterm or presidential elections. This type of election usually has in the low 30-percent turnout,” Garber said.

Garber said the elections office had been hoping for voter turnout closer to 40 percent, or at least turnout similar to other off-year elections.

“We thought with the county issues that are on the ballot and a sales and use tax, that it would motivate people to vote,” Garber added.

Because this year’s ballot is long and has several complicated measures, Garber said there is still hope that voters are just taking extra time.

Initial voting results will be posted Tuesday evening with additional results posted daily, as long as the county has at least 500 ballots to be processed. Garber said the county must have at least 500 ballots to count before posting results to ensure voters’ privacy is maintained.

“It just depends at that point. If there are still a few ballots trickling in or if we’re waiting for people to resolve signature issues,” Garber said.

Be sure to check The Columbian website for updated election results daily at www.columbian.com, with the first results published shortly after the county releases them around 8:15 p.m.

Clark/Vancouver Television (CVTV) will provide live coverage of the general election results starting at 8:30 p.m. Viewers can tune to Comcast channel 23/323HD or watch the livestream online at www.cvtv.org.

The county will certify the election results on Nov. 23.

For those who haven’t voted yet or haven’t registered to vote, it’s not too late.

Ballots can be brought to the Elections office at 1408 Franklin St., in Vancouver between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots can also be left in any one of the county’s 22 permanent drop boxes in Vancouver, Amboy, Battle Ground, Brush Prairie, Camas, Washougal, La Center, Ridgefield and Yacolt and must be in the box no later than 8 p.m. The full list of drop boxes and their locations is available online at https://clark.wa.gov/elections/ballot-deposit-locations.

County residents can register to vote or update their address for the current election in person at the Elections office until 8 p.m.

There are several races on the ballot that have drawn the most attention, and ire, from voters.

Vancouver mayor

Current Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle is being challenged for her seat by former Republican Party chair Earl Bowerman. The two candidates fundamentally disagree on what the role means for the city and what the job entails.

Charter Amendments

Of the 10 propositions on the ballot, nine are specific to amendments to the county’s home rule charter. From changing term lengths for charter committee members to creating five – instead of four – voting districts, from reducing council salaries to changing elected partisan positions into nonpartisan, the amendments cover a wide range of issues.

Proposition 10

This ballot measure would create a 0.1 percent sales tax to fund body and dash cameras for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. The tax would amount to 10 cents for every $100 spent. The new tax would go into effect on April 1, 2022, and expire March 31, 2032.

City Councils

Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, Woodland and Yacolt all have seats up for grabs on the ballot.

Vancouver, Battle Ground and Camas each have four seats on the ballot, while La Center has three. Washougal has four council positions on the ballot as well, although positions No. 3 and No. 6 drew no challengers. The race for that city’s mayor is now unchallenged after mayoral candidate Derik Ford died in October.

Ridgefield has two council seats open; Woodland has three and Yacolt has two seats on the ballot, one of which is unchallenged.

School Districts

Nearly every school district board has candidates vying for seats.

Battle Ground, Ridgefield and Mt. Pleasant school districts each have three board seats on the ballot. The Camas, Evergreen, Green Mountain, La Center, Hockinson, Vancouver, Washougal and Woodland school districts each have two board seats open.

And more…

Also on the ballot are races for fire protection, cemetery, recreation and wastewater districts as well as the Camas-Washougal Port, Ridgefield Port and Vancouver Port districts.

Ridgefield and Woodland residents will vote on sales and use tax measures for transportation improvements in their cities; a Woodland measure could change that city’s form of government and Battle Ground voters will decide on a replacement levy for schools.