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Elections office hoping for more ballot returns

It’s primary-eve in Spokane County and ballot returns are still low. About 23% of registered voters have returned their ballots, but that’s still a bit slow since tomorrow is election day. In the past two years they’ve seen between 26-42% voter turnout.

Voter turnout in legislative district four was leading for awhile, but now district six leads in that department. Overall, voters in Fire District 9 have returned the most percentage of ballots out of anybody.

Spokane County Auditor Vicki Dalton says voter turnout tends to pick up when there’s an interesting election race happening. Current events will push people to get their ballots in early.

Dalton added that they’re getting a couple calls into the elections office from voters asking for information about candidates. Since a voters guide is not printed during the primary to save on costs, they have to direct people to an online version.

If you haven’t already, turn in that ballot. You can drop it off at any library with a drop box until 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Voter turnout low in Spokane County

With less than a week away from the August primary election, Spokane County is nowhere close to the average voter turnout expected. Only 16.33% of voters have turned in their ballots.

The average turnout for the past five years, which includes one presidential election, is 36%, but at this point, voters are nowhere close to reaching that average. This doesn’t mean voter turnout won’t average out in the next couple of days.

This is actually the earliest August primary ever because Secretary of State Sam Reed requested the earlier date to accommodate military and overseas voters. New state laws also require ballots go out to registered voters 45 days before an election.

Reed calls this primary a watershed election year which means the results from this year’s election will decide the state’s politics for years to come.

Here’s today’s voter turnout statistics provided by Spokane County Elections Office:

8.61% of registered Spokane County voters have returned ballots

More primary ballots are arriving to the Spokane County Elections Office. Since Wednesday, another 4,400 ballots have been checked in, but that’s only 8.61% of registered voters in the county.

Be careful where you drop your ballot off though. Many libraries have drop boxes installed on their premises, but many miss those devices and instead drop them in the book return. It takes two library staff members to escort the ballot back out to the drop box - kind of like the buddy system to confirm the validity of the ballot.

Spokane Public Libraries says it’s sometimes happens at their downtown location during the election season, but the Shadle Library sees this happen about twice a week.

And be careful not to drop your checked out library items into the ballot boxes. Spokane Public Libraries warns on Facebook that the elections office may not return your items as quickly as you’d like.

Here’s today’s election statistics for Spokane County. Voters in the 4th Legislative District and the Spokane Valley Fire District continue to lead with ballot returns. You have until August 7.

6.97% of registered Spokane County voters have returned ballots

Almost two weeks remain until the voter deadline for this year’s primary election. This year’s primary on August 7th decides the final two candidates for positions like county commissioner, state representatives, state and U.S. senate.

Since ballots were dropped in late June (for military overseas) and early July (for Spokane County residents), 18,800 voters have already returned their ballots. For Spokane County, that’s only 6.97% of registered voters.

If you haven’t already filled out your ballot, check your mailbox and make sure you received it. The elections office can replace your ballot if you need a new one.

To return your ballot, either stamp on some postage and throw it in your outgoing mail or take it to the nearest library with a drop box.

City hosts first Facebook chat for the 2013 budget

City hosts first Facebook chat for the 2013 budget

For those that spend parts of their day browsing Facebook, they had a chance Tuesday afternoon to participate in some civic engagement. The city of Spokane hosted a Facebook chat for residents to ask their questions about the state of the city and even the upcoming budget.

City officials gathered in a city hall conference room to make sure there was a representative from every department to help answer questions. With over 1,000 users engaged on their page, only nine submitted questions or comments to officials totaling about 15 questions.

Mayor David Condon says this communication format will not replace the face to face component.

“It’s definitely one way of communicating with folks - a new version of the electronic town hall.” Condon said. “We’ve had some questions about how this is going to be integrated with ‘my decision making process’ - it is. None of it is perfect, but it’s a way to get comments.”

Notes from Tonight: West Central Town Hall Meeting

Notes from Tonight: West Central Town Hall Meeting

Every now and then, the City of Spokane holds a casual town hall meeting in place of the rigid meeting in the city council chambers. This tactic aims to get neighbors out of their homes to talk about their surroundings by bringing the city council meeting to their neck of the woods.

Here’s some notes from a portion of Monday night’s meeting. We had to scoot out of there around 6:45 p.m. to catch a bus, but here’s what we know:

Street Music Week

The one proclamation during Monday’s town hall meeting was announced for Spokesman-Review columnist, Doug Clark, for his work on Street Music Week. Too bad the proclamation was handwritten. If you look on the bright side, a handwritten note takes longer to write than a typed note.

Neighborhood Boundary Change Approved

Members of City Council approved the boundary change between the Five Mile Prairie and Balboa/South Indian Trail neighborhood. We met Ron Minarik with the City of Spokane who helped planned Monday’s town hall meeting. He also presented the boundary change to the city council.

Mayor plans to create enhanced customer service center at city hall

Mayor plans to create enhanced customer service center at city hall

Mayor David Condon announced several changes he plans to make Friday morning, among them a new enhanced customer service center on the first floor of city hall.

According to public affairs officer Marlene Feist, by August, five employees will be moved from other departments to work in the customer service area.  

Soon you'll be able to use the new center to pay for utility bills, parking tickets and register for a recreation class or event. They hope to offer more services throughout 2012, like making public records requests and applying for special permits.

The city will save money by eliminating certain positions that will no longer be needed after the new service center is made.