If, while filling out your ballot this week, you go looking in your state Voters’ Guide for info about local races, you will look in vain. This year, for the first time, King County decided to publish its own separate guide for the general election.
That may seem confusing. The county says it was to make things easier.
“We conducted focus-group surveys last year and talked to a cross-section of voters, looking at ways we could improve our customer service,” says Kim van Ekstrom, spokesperson for King County’s elections division. “They clearly told us they wanted that big voters’ pamphlet not to be so big. People preferred being able to hone in on King County information.”
But if voters want to focus on info that’s relevant to them, publishing a separate guide for King County hardly furthers that aim. The county book by itself is 56 pages long, the vast majority of which are devoted to races (“Mayor, Federal Way,” “Shoreline Electoral District, Judge Position 2,” etc., etc.) that do not appear on the ballot of anyone in, say, Seattle. Instead of having one bloated guide to wade through in search of germane information, we now have two.
Van Ekstrom says she does not expect production of the pamphlet to cost any more than what the county used to pay the Secretary of State’s office for its prorated share. Also, she says, “It gave us a little more time to produce it,” and thereby include more up-to-date information.
Of course, as with so much in life, the Internet is the answer—the county’s site in particular. That’s where you can print out a guide customized for just your zip code.