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Island County primary ballots head to mailboxes this week

Heather Porter of Langley and Dodie Handy of Greenbank assemble envelopes in preparation for mailing later this week.  - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
Heather Porter of Langley and Dodie Handy of Greenbank assemble envelopes in preparation for mailing later this week.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

The bulk of Island County voters should expect to receive their Aug. 17 primary election ballots in the mail late this week.

State law requires that they be mailed no later than 20 days before the election, which makes the deadline Friday, July 30. Volunteers have been at the Island County Auditor’s election office in Coupeville assembling envelopes since July 19 to ensure the deadline is met, Deputy Auditor Michele Reagan said.

The work has been going well and she expects all ballots to be at the post office by Thursday, so they can receive their Friday postmark. Military ballots, which were required to be mailed July 18, were sent to the post office July 15.

As of Monday afternoon, Reagan said 47,540 people were registered to vote in Island County.

While all local, state, and federal races will appear on the primary ballot, the only ones that will affect the November general election ballot will be the races for county clerk, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Congress District Two.

As a top-two primary state, the two candidates with the most votes, regardless of party, will proceed to the November ballot.

Running for the clerk’s seat are Democrats Patricia Terry and Debra Van Pelt, and Republican Carol Ann Fortune. Terry, the incumbent, is from Camano Island and was appointed to the position in December of 2009. Van Pelt, a deputy clerk for the past five years, lives in Oak Harbor as does Fortune, an at-home-mom of six.

The clerk’s position carries a four-year term and pays $70,646 a year.

Democrat Patty Murray, incumbent U.S. senator, is facing a total of 14 challengers, among them Dino Rossi, the Republican who was defeated by Gov. Chris Gregoire in the past two gubernatorial races. The office carries a six-year term.

In the congressional race, incumbent Rick Larsen, a Democrat, is facing four challengers, led by Republican John Koster. The seat carries a term of two years.

Finally, the fate of the county’s proposed property tax hike, Proposition 1, will also be decided on the primary ballot. It asks for a countywide increase to the current expense levy. If passed, it will increase 2011’s levy rate of 59 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value by 16 cents, permanently resetting the base rate at 75 cents.

The measure seeks to raise $2 million in order to retain public safety and other “essential services,” and begin replenishing the county’s contingency cash reserves.

Other races that will appear on the primary ballot, but will not be affected by the election’s results, include those for both 10th District State Representative seats, and eight county offices: the assessor, auditor, clerk, District 3 county commissioner, coroner, prosecutor, sheriff and the treasurer.

While not every race is contested, the incumbents for all state and county offices are seeking to retain their seats. State representative carries a term of two years, while positions at the county have a standard range of four.

Voters may mail back ballots any time up until the Aug. 17 election or they may drop off their ballots at the Island County Elections Office, 400 N. Main St. in Coupeville, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. For additional drop off points open only on election day, visit wei.secstate.wa.gov/island/Elections.

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