Lick me!Filling in those tiny circles with ink and affixing a stamp to the ballot envelope was just too much for two out of three county voters to handle the past few weeks. As of last night, just 30 percent of King County’s registered voters had bothered to mail in their ballots for Tuesday’s 2011 primary election. Of the 1,095,790 ballots sent out by King County Elections, 763,764 have not been returned. That’s a whole lot of democracy going to waste. While that’s unfortunately typical – turnout has averaged about 33 percent over the last 11 primary elections, the Times
reports – the lack of response seems particularly egregious in Seattle where voters were asked to help decide what is likely the biggest transportation issue of their lifetime, the deep-bore waterfront tunnel.According to the latest count, that $2 billion project was settled by the ballots of just 35 percent of Seattle voters – 135,258 of 379,919 registered. (The updated figures, by the way, show the tunnel has unofficially been approved by a solid 60-40 margin).All that time, all that money, all that media. And 244,661 Seattle voters decided they had nothing to say about it.You can argue the ballot issue was an unnecessary waste brought on by an obstinate Mayor Mike McGinn’s own tunnel vision, and that choosing not to vote was a way to express contempt for the process. But there were two City Council races on the ballot that also mattered. Well, to a third of us, anyway. Oddly, mail balloting was supposed to increase the turnout. But the first primary election that was entirely vote-by-mail, in 2009, brought a 32 percent response; the 2010 mail turnout was 38 percent. Same ol’ same ol’. You have to constantly marvel at those who take the time to register to vote but not the time to exercise it.