Early vote tallies indicate Mercer Island's $196 million school bond issue is drawing general election-sized interest from local residents.
King County Elections reports over 63,000 voters have already returned their ballots for the April 17 Special Election in King County, more than average at this time for special elections. King County Elections mailed 236,000 ballots to voters in the six districts participating in this election and expects a return rate of 34 percent (about 80,000).
“So far, voter turnout has been a little higher than we anticipated, which is very positive,” said Sherril Huff, King County Elections Director. “There are still a lot of voters who haven’t yet voted and I’d like to encourage them to sign the return envelope and get it back to us by April 17."
According to the King County Elections Website, 7,318 ballots from Mercer Island have been checked and verified for counting on April 17, a turnout 43 percent (of Mercer Island's 16,632 voters) and the highest turnout in the Special Election so far. Another 758 ballots have been received today and will be verified and added to the total by 8 p.m. tonight. Last year's general election reported a local turnout of nearly 60 percent, according to King County Elections.
The number of verified ballots easily surpassed the number needed to validate the school bond measure in tomorrow's special election, which state law requires a minimum of 3,971 ballots cast. In order to pass, the bond must garner a 60 percent "yes" vote.
In order for their ballot to be counted, voters are required to sign and date the back of the return envelope. King County Elections staff compare the signatures on returned ballot envelopes against the signature on file with voter registrations — and if voters return ballots without signing them, Election officials must attempt to contact each voter to resolve the problem. Signature problems must be resolved before the election is certified on April 27.
Ballots must be returned to one of six ballot drop boxes by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, April 17, or be postmarked on or before that day. Voters mailing their ballots need to affix a 45 cent stamp. To ensure that voters with disabilities are able to cast a private and independent ballot, the county’s accessible voting center in Renton is open for voting. Voters who return ballots early help ensure more efficient elections.
Auburn Transportation Benefit District, the City of Enumclaw, the South King Fire & Rescue, and three school districts (Issaquah, Mercer Island and Renton) are participating in this month’s election.