Precious minutes are slipping away in the homestretch of the 2016 election.
To really feel the impending deadline of a historic event that finally — mercifully — will be over, go to the Pierce County website and behold the auditor’s countdown clock. For fatalists on the political fringes, it might as well be counting down to doomsday.
A great many folks believe this day of reckoning can’t be over soon enough. More than a few are twitchy about voting for any of the damaged candidates at the top of the ticket, but they’ve held their noses and gotten it over with.
The most unfortunate reaction of all? Some of your friends and neighbors might sit it out, thinking the election is essentially already over.
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Millions of early-bird voters from more than two-thirds of the states have been casting ballots for days. National campaigns have ignored all but the battleground states for weeks. Pollster-oracles have prognosticated Election Day outcomes for months. All these things can lead to an overall feeling of “why bother?”
A sense of predestination can overtake Washington Democrats and Republicans alike, fueled by presumed easy blue-state victories for Hillary Clinton, Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray.
But don’t give in to last-gasp apathy. Listen to the pep talk of fraternity brother Bluto Blutarsky from the movie “Animal House,” as voiced by the late actor John Belushi.
“Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”
OK, so Bluto’s overt ignorance of world affairs rivals that of the Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary “What is Aleppo?” Johnson. But you get the point.
Washington voters have been called to action on several fronts, not just to elect a commander in chief. We’ve been recruited to shape far-reaching public policy issues such as gun safety, tax reform and a fair minimum wage.
The legislators and statewide leaders we elect will decide whether Washington school children of every zip code will be treated with equity, and whether the mentally ill and homeless will be treated with dignity.
In the 253 area code, we will decide whether to invest a princely sum in our grandchildren’s mass-transit future, and whether to make it easier for citizens to put do-it-yourself laws on the ballot. We will choose people to lead Pierce County out of King County’s shadow and into the dawn of 2020.
No vote should be taken for granted, no ballot left unmarked on the kitchen counter.
The good news is that Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has predicted vigorous voter participation that could surpass the record 85-percent turnout in the 2008 presidential election.
Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson has set the bar lower, at 78 to 80 percent, which would fall short of the heights reached during the first Obama election. As of Friday, only seven of Washington’s 39 counties had a lower return rate.
“Pierce County regularly underperforms when you look at the statewide average,” Anderson said. “It’s not something we’re happy about, but it’s also not something we can do anything about.”
Political candidates and their cleverly disguised financiers could do something about it. Instead, they breed voter cynicism by pandering to the lowest common denominator.
The ugly tenor of the 2016 campaign has turned off many voters, and not just the presidential contest. State legislative races in South Sound swing districts have featured ads produced in astonishingly poor taste.
Case in point: an independent mailer, funded by a committee run by Senate Republicans, that accuses the Democrat running for Senate in the 28th District of disrespecting jury duty. What it shamelessly leaves out is that she was hit by a car and seriously injured while on her way to jury duty.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised if one-fifth of local voters want no part in this mess.
But let’s not make excuses. All registered Washington voters 18 and older have a duty to activate mind and conscience, sort through the noise and fill out their ballots.
As a vote-by-mail state, we don’t have to worry about photo ID laws, limited polling place hours, vigilante partisan poll watchers or other obstacles. Voting doesn’t get much easier than depositing a ballot in a dropbox by Tuesday at 8 p.m., or making sure the envelope is postmarked by Nov. 8.
Each of us also has the ability to stand up to the cynicism and chicanery, speak truth to politicians and demand “no more.”
Over? Did somebody say the era of the hopeful, engaged electorate is over? That the democracy envisioned by presidents Kennedy and Reagan as a shining “city on a hill” is over?
Nothing is over until we decide it is.
Our endorsements at a glance
To read the full-length endorsements, go online to bit.ly/TNTendorsements.
For the full TNT online voter guide: bitly.com/tntvoterguide.
President: Hillary Clinton; U.S. Senate: Patty Murray; Congressional District 6: Derek Kilmer; Congressional District 8: Dave Reichert; Congressional District 9: Adam Smith; Congressional District 10: Denny Heck.
Governor: Jay Inslee; lt. governor: Cyrus Habib; secretary of state: Kim Wyman; treasurer: Duane Davidson; auditor: Pat McCarthy; attorney general: Bob Ferguson; commissioner of public lands: Hilary Franz; superintendent of public instruction: Erin Jones; insurance commissioner: Mike Kreidler.
DISTRICT 2 - Senate: Randi Becker; House Position 1: Amy Pivetta Hoffman; House Position 2: J.T. Wilcox; DISTRICT 25 - Senate: Hans Zeiger; House Pos. 1: Melanie Stambaugh; House Pos. 2: Michelle Chatterton; DISTRICT 26 - House Pos. 1: Larry Seaquist; House Pos. 2: Michelle Caldier; DISTRICT 27 - Senate: Jeannie Darneille; DISTRICT 28 - Senate: Steve O’Ban; House Pos. 1: Dick Muri; House Pos. 2: Christine Kilduff; DISTRICT 29 - House Pos. 1: David Sawyer; House Pos. 2: Steve Kirby; DISTRICT 31 - House Pos. 1: Drew Stokesbary; House Pos. 2: Lane Walthers.
PIERCE COUNTY OFFICE
Executive: Bruce Dammeier; County Council Position 2: Carolyn Edmonds; Position 3: Dennis Townsend; Position 4: Connie Ladenburg; Position 6: Doug Richardson.
Washington Supreme Court: Justice Barbara Madsen, Justice Charles Wiggins, Justice Mary Yu.
Pierce Superior Court, Judge Position 2: Tim Ashcraft; Position 5: Shelly Speir; Position 8: Grant Blinn; Position 17: Karena Kirkendoll.
Auburn school bond: Yes; Franklin Pierce school bond: Yes
Gig Harbor Fire & Medic Proposition 1: Yes; Graham Fire & Rescue Proposition 1: Yes
STATE BALLOT MEASURES
Initiative No. 732: Carbon tax. No; Initiative No. 735: Campaign finance. Yes; Initiative No. 1433: Minimum wage increase. No.; Initiative No. 1464: Money in politics. No.; Initiative No. 1491: Gun protection orders. Yes; Initiative No. 1501: Identity theft. No; Advisory Vote No. 14: Dental plan tax. Maintain; Advisory Vote No. 15: Vehicle tax exemption. Maintain; Senate Joint Resolution No. 8210: Redistricting commission. Yes.
PIERCE COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENTS
Amendment No. 41: Reduce initiative signature threshold. No; No. 42: Reduce referendum signature threshold. No; No. 43: Early review of initiative/referendum proposals. Yes; No. 44: Ban dual office holding. Yes; No. 45: Purchasing and contracts. Yes.
Proposition 1: Light rail and transit expansion. Yes.