The two-plus week political marathon known as the 2012 primary election is almost over. Election Day is Tuesday.
But there are no polling places anymore as Walla Walla County, like almost all of Washington state, has gone to a vote-by-mail system.
That means ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday or dropped off at the following locations — Election Center, 310 W. Poplar St., open until 8 p.m. on Election Day, or Auditor’s Office, 315 W. Main St., Room 201, open until 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Outside drop boxes are open until 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
In Walla Walla they are located at Fifth Avenue and Poplar Street, Courthouse alley (Enter on Fifth Avenue) and the Walla Walla Fire Station at 170 N. Wilbur Ave.
The drop box in College Place is at City Hall (drive up alley behind 625 S. College Ave.) and in Waitsburg at City Hall (on sidewalk by front door; 147 Main St.)
Don’t forget to vote!
And don’t avoid voting. Some folks might have been a bit surprised to find themselves facing so many decisions with so little information.
The state did not publish a voters’ guide for the primary because of cuts to budget of the Secretary of State’s Office. All of the information is online at bit.ly/bB9M3Q, but not everyone has access to a computer.
The Union-Bulletin has had several calls from readers since the ballots were mailed July 20 asking about the races for U.S. Senate, governor, state auditor, lands commissioner and more. Many were looking for information about specific candidates while others wanted information about all the candidates.
Not having a voters’ guide mailed directly to citizens has been a bigger problem for voters than we — or perhaps the state — had anticipated. On the positive, it shows many people really do care about elections and are willing to do some research to make an informed decision.
The Legislature and newly elected secretary of state (incumbent Sam Reed is retiring) should consider printing voters’ guides for all elections in the future.
There, of course, has been solid coverage of local races and issues — and a ton of local commentary through the Our Readers’ Opinions column.
But the media in general — and the Union-Bulletin in particular — should make an effort to do a better job of providing information to readers about the statewide candidates.
Having the primary election taking place the first Tuesday in August has a lot of people off balance. Washingtonians were used to having a primary on the third Tuesday in September, which meant most voters didn’t even start thinking about the election season until after Labor Day.
The primary date was moved to early August to ensure the November ballot could be printed in plenty of time to be mailed to overseas voters, including those in the military serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The bottom line is elections are now a summer activity in Washington state. Washingtonians must adapt.
Vote and then get your ballot mailed in or dropped off by Tuesday.