Spin Control: Midterm election ballots to be mailed this week
Ballots for the Washington general election will be mailed out this week and should arrive at the homes of registered voters by next week.
If the usual pattern continues, around a third will be marked and returned in the first few days. About another third will not be returned until just before or on “election day”, which this year is November 8.
The citations are necessary because Washington has about six weeks from the time the ballots are mailed out until the last ones are counted, so nominal Election Day is really just a date. deadline to receive your ballot by mail or drop box before 8 p.m. State law allows any ballot postmarked on or before the day to be counted until the election results are certified, which this year is three weeks after the deadline. If you’re a procrastinating voter, Washington is your kind of place.
Unfortunately, English doesn’t have a good word for a six-week period that starts in the middle of a month and ends at the end of the next month.
Mailing out some 4.7 million ballots almost always brings calls and emails from readers longing for the good old days when only the sick and infirm, overseas military or well-organized travelers voted by mail. All other voters went to a polling station, lined up to get a ballot, marked it and put it in a box.
The passage of time has added a halcyon glow to this activity, making remembrance to some look like a Norman Rockwell painting in which people in a wide range of clothing, some holding briefcases or toolboxes and d others shaking hands with a toddler, standing patiently in a queue or chatting amiably while waiting their turn in the voting booth. Some remember it as an exercise in democracy with a good neighborly patina.
Like most things, voting on voting sites can be better in memory than in practice. I confess to enjoying going to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on Grand Boulevard soon after my polling station opened on most election days for about two decades when I lived in the compound next door. As a political reporter, having to be in the newsroom early and showing up shortly after 7 a.m. meant that the friendly poll workers – who had apparently been handing out ballots since Eisenhower’s first election, or maybe being from Roosevelt – usually had homemade treats for us early risers.
But that meant I never stood in line or waited for a table where I could hit my ballot with the funny little metal poker known as the stylus. The wait for people who stopped on their way home from work or had to rush off after dinner because they suddenly remembered it was election day was often long – which I know because I spent many election nights interviewing voters as they left the polling station.
Mail-in voting may never evoke the same golden memories, but it’s definitely more convenient. Some people will say it’s less secure, although they haven’t yet found a scenario where a large number of ballots could be stolen and mailed back with a signature matching that of the voter at that it has been stolen or counterfeited. and mailed to the election office in a fake envelope with a forged code and accepted with the signature of a non-existent voter who is not on the rolls.
Incidentally, voting at polling places was not the electoral equivalent of Fort Knox. Some of the greatest electoral battles in history, such as Lyndon Johnson’s “landfall” victory in the Senate in 1948 and John Kennedy’s victory in some Chicago constituencies – and with it the 1960 presidential election – occurred with voting at polling stations. The process is not the key in these questions, it is who is in charge of the process and who monitors them.
Elections in Washington are not absolutely perfect, because nothing is. But whether it’s voting by polling site or voting by mail, officials have been and are diligent in keeping them secure and accurate.
Some people argue that making elections more convenient means increased turnout. But on this side, the results are mixed. Based on the Secretary of State’s records, in all but one presidential election in Washington since 1928, more votes have been cast than in the presidential election four years earlier.
This is not too surprising, since the years for which there are records, there are also more registered voters than the previous four years.
These are the mid-term elections, like this year, where turnout is mixed. It is still lower than the previous presidential election, ranging from as low as 7 percentage points to 27 percentage points. Postal voting seems to have little to do with this.
The biggest shortcomings in the 21st century were in midterm elections that had no statewide race for a U.S. Senate seat, such as in 2014 and 2002, where 54.2% and 56, 6% of people voted, respectively. Midterms are also years in which the only statewide offices on the ballot are those of the state Supreme Court, as all state executive offices are open to the during the presidential year.
The highest midterm turnout of the century occurred in 2010 and 2018, exceeding 71%, and in both cases there was a race for the US Senate. Most election analysts will tell you that turnout is determined by the candidates. Ballot measures do not necessarily boost turnout in the medium term, the records suggest. There were nine on the ballot in 2010 and four in 2018, but there were also four in 2004 and three relatively controversial – two on gun control and one on smaller classrooms – in 2014.
This year is a bit of a unicorn when it comes to midterms. There is a US Senate race, but no statewide initiatives or referendums. But there is a statewide executive race to fill the last two years of the post of secretary of state vacated by Kim Wyman. Anyone who tells you they know how this is all going to play out might also offer to put you in touch with a Nigerian prince who has oil leases he is willing to sell if you can just cover some transfer fees.