Yakima County auditor shares advice for voters ahead of midterm election

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. —Nearly 120,000 ballots for the midterm election and voter guides for state and local races have been sent out to Yakima County’s registered voters, but it’s likely most of them won’t get turned in.

During the primary election in August, the county had the worst voter turnout in Washington state. Yakima County Auditor Charles Ross said low voter participation has been an issue for decades.

“We do the best we can to encourage turnout, but at the end of the day, it’s it’s up to each voter,” Ross said. “We’re hoping that we see more energy this year.”

Ross said people tend to participate mostly in presidential elections, despite the fact the importance of the midterm election for local policymaking.

“This is an election that probably has more impact on an everyday resident of Yakima County than any other election because you’re voting on your local decision makers,” Ross said.

Ross said that includes the politicians who will be responsible for making most of the decisions about the county’s budget and priorities.

“A Yakima County Commissioner is one-third of the policy decisions that drive almost every single thing that happens in Yakima County,” Ross said.

However, Ross said people do not have to vote on every single issue on the ballot and can pick and choose to engage with the issues that matter to them. He said as long as the ballot is signed and dropped in a ballot box or postmarked by 8 p.m. election night, it will be counted.

Ross said it’s important to use a black ink pen and to make your signature as clear as possible. He said turning your ballot in is as simple as dropping it off at any of the nearly 70 post office receptacles across the county.

There’s also ballot dropbox locations in every community and in the unincorporated areas of the county, most of which are drive-up locations that are open 24/7.

“In Washington state, you can register or change your location of registration clear up till eight o’clock election night,” Ross said. “The only barrier to participation is you, the voter, opting not to complete the ballot and sign your name and send it in.”

Ross said if you need to get a new ballot or have an issue with your existing one, you can call the elections division at 509-574-1340 for assistance.