Today is Election Day for some in Clark County: the last day voters can cast their ballots for a handful of critical funding measures.
Following the trend of early special elections in previous years, turnout is expected to be lower than the action-packed November election cycle — with just 41,575 ballots received of the 182,491 sent out, amounting to 22.78 percent of eligible voters as of Monday.
Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said Monday he expects to receive 7,000 to 8,000 more ballots today and another 1,000 to 2,000 ballots Wednesday, which would bring turnout up to about 29 percent.
Ballots are due by 8 p.m. today at the Clark County Elections Office at 1408 Franklin St., Vancouver, or at any of the county’s 22 red permanent ballot drop boxes. Locations for the boxes are listed online at clark.wa.gov/elections/ballot-deposit-locations.
Initial election results are expected to be released around 8:15 p.m. Follow along at www.columbian.com for the latest results and look for in-depth coverage later tonight online and in Wednesday’s newspaper.
On the ballot
Perhaps chief among the measures on today’s ballot is Proposition 3, where voters will decide whether to renew Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Fund for another 10 years. If approved, the levy would raise $100 million over 10 years starting in 2024 for affordable-housing development and preservation, temporary shelters, homelessness prevention, and rental and homeownership assistance.
The measure would increase the current property tax levy sustaining the fund from 18 cents to about 30 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value. The levy would cost Vancouver homeowners an estimated $150 per year for a home with a $500,000 assessed value. The cost could decrease as the city’s assessed property value grows.
Also on the ballot for voters across Southwest Washington are four schools measures, leading with Vancouver Public Schools’ replacement education and operations levy, which would replace existing levies when they expire at the end of 2023.
Vancouver Public Schools is asking voters for $271.9 million over four years at an estimated collections rate of $1.99 per $1,000 assessed property value. This is not a new tax, rather a renewal of a current measure. The measure, if approved, would provide the district funding for programs not supported by the state, including extracurricular activities and additional staffing supports for security, counseling, nursing and more.
The Washougal School District is also running two measures that, like Vancouver, would replace existing measures set to expire at the end of this year that support extracurricular activities, athletics, technology, maintenance and safety needs not covered by state or federal funds.
Lastly, Woodland Public Schools, which has registered voters in both Clark and Cowlitz counties, will run a similar replacement levy to support programs and staff not funded by the state when it expires at the end of this year.