Clallam, Jefferson county voters slow to vote in today’s primary

Today is the last day for voters to cast their ballots.

PORT ANGELES — Today is the last day for voters, who so far on the North Olympic Peninsula have seemed to largely stayed home for this year’s primary election, to cast their ballots.

Election coordinators in both Clallam and Jefferson counties said voters may simply feel overwhelmed by the number of candidates in statewide races — 17 for Democratic senator Patty Murray’s position and 11 for Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s position.

Of the 49,004 ballots sent to Clallam voters, 10,950 were returned as of Monday.

That is a 22.3 percent participation rate, elections coordinator Ken Hugoniot said Monday.

Of the 23,632 ballots sent to Jefferson County voters, 6,487 were returned as of Monday, 27.45 percent of the total — and a lot less than Jefferson County is used receiving in most elections by this time, elections coordinator Betty Johnson said Monday.

Ballots must be postmarked by today or dropped off in county drop boxes or at county courthouses in Jefferson and Clallam counties by 8 p.m. today to be valid.

The top-two votegetters in all races advance to the Nov. 8 general election regardless of party affiliation. The primary narrows the field in contests with more than two contenders.

On the Peninsula, the only local races are county commission race in each county and the race for a House seat in the 24th Legislative District, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

In Clallam County, only voters in Port Angeles-area District 2 are choosing among four candidates for the partisan county commissioner seat being vacated by Democrat Mike Chapman of Port Angeles, who is running for the state Legislature.

The candidates are Randy Johnson, no party preference, chairman and board member of Green Crow Corp. of Port Angeles and board chairman of the county Economic Development Council; Democrat Ron Richards, a commercial fisherman and former county commissioner; Republican Maggie Roth, a civil process server and former county commissioner candidate; and Republican Gabe Rygaard, Rygaard Logging Inc. owner-operator and a former reality TV star.

In Jefferson County, only voters only in Port Townsend-area District 1 have five candidates to choose from on the ballot for the partisan position of county commissioner, although landscaper Holly Postmus, who declared no party preference, dropped out after registering to run for the position.

That leaves four candidates — three of them Democrats — who want to succeed Democrat Phil Johnson, who is not running for re-election.

The Democrats are Kate Dean, regional director of the North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation & Development Council in Port Townsend; Cynthia Koan, a self-employed computer information technology support technician coach; and Tim Thomas, president of Bernt Ericsen Excavating Inc. in Port Townsend.

Also running is Republican Jeff Gallant, a general contractor.

24th Legislative District

Chapman, a four-term Clallam County commissioner and a former Republican, is joining two other candidates in running for the District 24 Position 1 seat being vacated by Sequim Democrat Kevin Van De Wege.

Facing Chapman is Democrat Tammy Ramsay of Hoquiam and Republican George Vrable of Port Ludlow, a retired battalion chief for the Navy Region Northwest Fire Department.

Van De Wege is running in the general election for the 24th District state Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam, who is retiring.

His opponent will be Danille Turissini of Port Ludlow, who when registering as a candidate for the position filed her party preference as “independent GOP party.”

Hugoniot suggested that the long list of candidates and the size of the ballot may have deterred voter participation so far, noting, for example, the deluge of U.S. Senate candidates.

“Most people have not received any information and don’t know who they are,” he said.

“There are so many state races and so little information.”

But his office received 2,700 ballots from Saturday, Monday and drop boxes that were gleaned Monday.

Johnson echoed that view, saying she, too, had waited until this past weekend to cast her ballot.

“There are just too many people on the ballot,” she said.

“It’s really hard to research.

“Normally, I vote my ballot right away.

“People put it off when they have to sit at a computer and research.”

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