WALLA WALLA -- The crowd of candidates running for local, state and federal offices will be winnowed down tonight as the primary election comes to a close.
Under Washington state's "top two" primary system, only the two candidates who receive the most votes will advance to the November general election. Among the most crowded races are the U.S. Senate seat, where incumbent Patty Murray is among 15 candidates, and the U.S. House seat for Congressional District 5, where incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers is running against five challengers.
In Walla Walla County, the races for county sheriff and county coroner both have more than two candidates. In the sheriff's race, the candidates are Jim Romine, John Turner and Bill White. In the coroner's race, Richard Greenwood, Ken Hall, Virginia Romine and Jim Schmerer are on the ballot and Frank Brown, the incumbent, is running as a write-in candidate.
In the statewide Washington Supreme Court race, Bryan Chuscoff and Charlie Wiggins are challenging incumbent Richard B. Sanders for the position 6 seat.
County Auditor Karen Martin said this morning that voter turnout could be more than 30 percent this year.
"We've got 10,237 ballots ready to count as of yesterday and we're working on what was turned in as of last night," she said. "We'll probably have 500 to 700 more by tonight for sure." About 30,000 ballots were mailed out to Walla Walla County voters for this election.
Preliminary election results will be posted on the Walla Walla County website as soon as possible after polls close at 8 p.m. tonight, Martin said.
In the coroner's race, the results could be slowed if Brown receives enough write-in votes to put him in contention as one of the top finishers.
"If he gets enough that it looks like he's in the top two, we will have to manually tally the ballots," Martin said.
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Ballots can be dropped off until 8 p.m. at the Walla Walla County Elections office, 310 W. Poplar St. Ballots can also be deposited in the drop box behind the County Jail.
Voters in Burbank and Waitsburg will also have until 8 p.m. to deposit ballots in drop boxes at Columbia High School in Burbank, 787 Maple, and at Waitsburg Elementary School, 184 Academy.
Ballots can also be dropped off at the Walla Walla County Auditor's Office at the Walla Walla County Courthouse, 315 E. Main St., until 4 p.m. today.
The Columbia County Auditors Office located in the county courthouse on Main Street will accept ballots up to 8 p.m. tonight. The Garfield County Auditors Office will also stay open until 8 p.m. to accept ballots. Because of a courthouse renovation project, the office is located at the Pomeroy Elementary School, 121 S. 10th St.
People who have waited until today to mail ballots will need to make sure their envelopes are postmarked with today's date in order to be counted, Martin said.