Editorial: Summertime vote tested

  • Wednesday, June 13, 2007 3:00pm
  • Opinion

Oak Harbor and Coupeville voters are fortunate to be among the first statewide to test the new August primary election date.

Most jurisdictions don’t have three or more candidates vying for any single position in an off-year election, but North Whidbey excelled during the candidate filing period. Voters in Whidbey Island’s largest city will have three races on the primary election ballot.

Running for mayor are two experienced council members, Paul Brewer and Sue Karahalios, as well as former school board member Jim Slowik. It promises to be a spirited campaign by three people who know the city well and have extensive ties in the community.

For Oak Harbor City Council, Clairann Haney, Bob Morrison and Jim Palmer are all seeking an open seat. And for Oak Harbor School Board, there will be a primary battle for an open seat between Bill Burnett, Frank Pulu and David Sherman.

Another primary election will occur in Coupeville where a Town Council seat is being sought by the trio of Sue Cunningham, Bob Clay and Gary Piazzon.

Election day is August 21. But we can no longer say the polls will be open that day. Island County has joined the ranks of those counties where elections will be conducted entirely by mail, although a few ballot drop-off locations may be established for those electoral dinosaurs who want to simulate the real voting experience by going somewhere and dropping an envelope into a box.

It was with fear and trepidation that the Legislature finally moved the primary election up from its traditional mid-September date. The move was a necessity as it was taking county auditors so long to count mail ballots that the process was interfering with the November election. It’s hard not to mention here that in the recent election in France, the winning presidential candidate was known with certainty the night of the election. The French have slow-cooked food and fast elections, and we have the opposite. We can’t help but wonder which society got it right.

Legislators were worried about an election in the heat of summer, which on Whidbey Island usually lasts all of four weeks and is centered around August 21. Will candidates comb the beaches, wearing water-wings and bathing suits to fit in with the voting public? Will the voters care about the election when summer fun is calling and when families are enjoying the last couple of weeks before another school year starts? On Whidbey Island, we are about to find out.

Meanwhile, the early primary has moved up the voter registration date for those who wish to participate in the August election. If you aren’t registered to vote, the last day to do so by mail is July 21, and the last day to register in-person at the Auditor’s Office is August 6.

With several interesting races on the ballot, North Whidbey will be a good testing ground for the new August primary. If hardly anyone votes, maybe it’s time to go back to voting the old way with polling places and helpful precinct workers. Just like in France.

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