Peninsula: Voting just got costlier


Peninsula Daily News

Gov. Gary Locke's veto of the Legislature's ``Top 2'' primary system will cause election costs to soar and dampen voter turnout, Clallam and Jefferson County auditors predict.

Clallam County Auditor Cathleen McKeown said that in a worst-case scenario, if the veto becomes an ``unfunded mandate'' from the state, the county's loss could reduce her employees' public service work hours.

``If worse comes to worse, we're going to have this office opened only half-days, and close our office for customer service, and then we'll put out the ballots,'' she said.

``We might have to end up doing that. Clallam County is just that much in need of money.''

Jefferson County Auditor Donna Eldridge said the cost of holding a primary election will go from a budgeted $45,000 to $82,721 this year.

It won't affect the cost of the general election because there is no change to that procedure.

Locke used his veto power two weeks ago to create separate party primary elections in the state for the first time since the Depression, unraveling lawmakers' preferred replacement for the popular ``blanket'' primary.

The political parties were delighted, but critics vowed to fight the governor in court and to offer voters a rival plan in November.

The state has to replace its wide-open ``blanket'' primary that has allowed each voter to pick his or her favorite for each office, regardless of party and without registering by party.

All Materials Copyright © 2004 Horvitz Newspapers, Inc.


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