Tuesday is special elections day in Washington state



(The Center Square) – The clock is ticking for voters eligible to cast ballots Tuesday in special elections across Washington state. Ballots must be postmarked, placed in drop boxes, or received at designated collection sites by 8 p.m. to be counted.

Depending on location, the ballots may contain proposals for property tax levies, bond measures, annexation requests, and more. Nearly half of Washington’s 4.81 million registered voters are eligible to vote in the Feb. 13 election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Most of Tuesday’s ballot measures involve 215 of the state’s 295 public school districts.

In Washington, school districts only need simple-majority votes to pass local property tax funding levies, which typically range from one to four years in length and annually collect up to $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

Levy dollars support school functions that are not directly paid by the state. These include sports and extracurricular activities, security, technology, transportation, food services, facility maintenance, staff training, and higher-education programs such as College in the High School.

Levy passage is also needed for school districts which qualify for “levy equalization assistance” from the state. These additional funds are provided to “property poor” districts which have lower overall assessed valuations — but only if their levies are approved by voters.

A number of school districts have also proposed long-term, multi-million-dollar bond sales to finance new construction and major renovation projects. For passage, bond measures require a minimum 60% approval vote plus “turnout validation” representing at least 40% of the total number of people who cast ballots within the district at the last general election.

Around the state, there are also 10 fire districts, six cities, three park and three hospital districts, and one county and one mosquito control district proposing measures that will be decided by voters. In all, 36 of Washington’s 39 counties mailed out ballots last month.

“Your precinct determines what is printed on your ballot,” says the Secretary of State’s Office. “If your precinct is eligible, your customized voters’ guide at and your mailed ballot will contain offices and measures based on the address where you are registered to vote.”

To vote in Washington, a person must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen who has been a legal resident of the state for at least 30 days. Individuals may register and vote in person at a county elections office up to 8 p.m. on election day.

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