By Don C. Brunell, president, Association of Washington
Elections are always important, but the stakes are particularly
high this year with our economy stuck in neutral and threatening to
slip into reverse.
The economy will move forward only when employers feel confident
enough to begin hiring. The choices voters make this November will
either strengthen or weaken employer confidence.
When you mark your ballot, ask yourself, “Will my vote help
create real private-sector jobs for me and my family? Will my vote
put us on the path to reducing our crushing federal debt? Will my
vote begin to reverse years of high unemployment?”
This will be a pivotal election and both camps will have their
get-out-the-vote efforts. But voting is something Americans often
take for granted. That is in stark contrast to the people of Iraq
who braved death threats in 2005 to vote in their first free
By comparison, Americans have it easy. Perhaps too easy. Having
the right to vote isn’t enough — we have to use it!
Washington citizens are more active than most when it comes to
voting. But even here, the number of people voting in major
elections has dwindled over time.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, back in 1952
nearly 91 percent of eligible adults in Washington were registered
to vote, and 80 percent of them went to the polls.
In 2008, only 72 percent of eligible adults were registered.
Even though a high percentage of them voted, the lower number of
registered voters meant that only six out of ten eligible people
What does that mean?
It means that four of every 10 adults let other people make
decisions for them. They threw away the right to decide who leads
their state and nation and what direction we take.
This is a big election year in Washington state. In addition to
the governor’s race between Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob
McKenna, Secretary of State Sam Reed and Auditor Brian Sonntag are
both retiring this year.
Initiative 1185 will let voters decide — again — if they want to
require a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature to increase
taxes. Hopefully, the answer will be “yes” — again.
Initiative 1240 would allow charter public schools in
Washington, one of only nine states without that option. Voters
should say yes to this opportunity to provide parents with more
choices for their children’s education.
But however you vote . . . vote!
In spite of everything, some folks believe they can’t make a
difference. Not true.
Remember the 2004 Washington governor’s race? It was the closest
political race in U.S. history. Republican Dino Rossi was declared
the winner in the initial automated count and again in the
automated recount. It wasn’t until after the second recount done by
hand that Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner by
The only way to guarantee you don’t make a difference is to not
vote. And, as the old timers say, if you don’t vote, you can’t
Monday, Oct. 8 is the last day to update your registration or
register online or through the mail, and Oct. 29 is the deadline to
register in person.
General Election ballots will be mailed out to registered voters
on Oct. 19. Your completed ballot must be postmarked no later than
Election Day. (Remember to sign it.)
If you’re dropping off your ballot in person, you must deposit
it in a designated ballot drop box or at your county elections
office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Contact the Secretary of State’s
office or your county elections office for assistance.
Voting is easier — and more important —than ever these days.