VANCOUVER, Wash. — At the Clark County Elections Office, staff screened and sorted ballots Monday as more poured in ahead Washington’s March 10 Presidential Primary.
“It's unusual, it's different than any other primary we do in Washington,” said Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey.
Kimsey realized it may be lost on many outside the state that Washington doesn't register people by political party. Even so, Washington voters are still required to publicly declare their party affiliation during the primary.
They do so by marking one of two boxes on the outer envelope. If they check Democrat, they must vote Democrat. If they check Republican, they must vote Republican. Ballots that deviate from that requirement are rejected.
Kimsey said some ballot missteps are correctable. For example, elections officials will contact voters who checked both boxes or no boxes, or forgot to sign their ballot envelope. Those ballots are referred to as “challenged.” By Monday afternoon, Kimsey said the Clark County Elections office had received 2,220 challenged ballots along with several questions from voters.
“One of the questions we get a lot of is ‘Hey, we cast our vote two weeks ago and now we see that the candidate I voted for is not in the race—can I get a new ballot?’ No. One to a customer.”
Voters can hand-deliver ballots by 8:00 p.m. on Mar. 10. They can also vote by mail if their ballot is postmarked by Mar. 10.
“It's just a happy day!” said Vancouver resident Pavel Mironichenko, 28, after he and his wife dropped off their ballots. It was the first time either of them had ever voted.
“Everyone that has the privilege to do it should do it,” said Mironichenko.
Bailey Sipes couldn’t have agreed more. The Vancouver resident and University of Washington student drove three hours from Seattle to Vancouver after her absentee ballot didn’t show up in the mail.
“Voting is not a joke to me,” said Sipes. “I want to make sure I get to vote!”