Washington voters approve new style of primary election

Election day isn't just a day when the next president of the United States is decided. It is also a day when voters get a chance to voice their opinion on the fate of various ballot measures.

This year the ballot measures gave voters a chance to decide on the fate of everything from the presence of electronic scratch tickets at licensed non-tribal gaming establishments to the creation of an education trust fund in the state.

Tuesday, voters came out in force and let their feelings be known.

Initiative 872

When it comes to the creation of a new primary election format, Washington voters overwhelming voted for change. In Yakima County, 67.8 percent of voters approved the initiative. This mirrors the response from voters across Washington state, where 59.9 percent voted for the initiative.

The initiative gives voters a chance to vote for all candidates in a primary election with the top two candidates moving on to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

Those opposed to the initiative were concerned that the two-top primary could result in a single party election in some races come November.

According to the State of Washington Voters' pamphlet, the passage of I-872 could mean lowering the annual cost of the primary election system by as much as $6 million from the system currently in place.

Initiative 884

Initiative 884 asked voters to approve the creation of an education trust fund by increasing the sales tax across the state by 1 percent.

This was a measure voted down by voters yesterday. In Yakima County, 60.59 percent of voters voted against I-884. These numbers nearly mirror the results statewide, where 60.74 percent of voters decided against the initiative.

Those against the initiative pointed to the fact that Washington is already the seventh highest taxed state in the nation and already has one of the highest sales tax rates.

Those for the initiative felt it would help provide additional funding for the state's education system.

If the measure had passed it would have increased the state sales tax, which currently sits at 7.5 percent, by 1 percent. This new revenue would have been put aside to help support education throughout the state. According to the Washington State Voters' pamphlet, it would have provided additional funds for K-12 schools, as well as pre-school assistance for low income children and post-secondary education.

Initiative 892

Tuesday, voters flexed their muscles and voted down Initiative 892, which dealt with electronic scratch ticket machines.

The initiative would have made it possible for authorized, licensed non-tribal gambling establishments to bring in the same type of gaming machines used at tribal casinos. According to the initiative, the revenue brought in from the additional gaming machines would have been used to reduce state property taxes.

In Washington state, 60.63 percent of voters marked no on their ballots, leading to the defeat of the measure. In Yakima County, results were very similar with 60.17 percent of voters against the initiative.

Referendum Measure 55

The second education measure on the ballot didn't fare much better than the first. Tuesday, voters in Washington voted down Referendum Measure 55, which would have made it possible to establish charter schools in the state.

The measure would have made it possible for charter schools to be operated by "qualified non-profit corporations, under contracts with local education boards." The charter schools would have been allocated a certain amount of public funds for operation.

Again, the percentage of voters who voted against Referendum 55 in Washington state is almost exactly the same as the percentage of those who voted against it in Yakima County. Across the state, 58.42 percent of voters voted against the measure. In Yakima County, 58.77 percent of voters voted against it.

Jim Spady with the Washington Charter School Resource Center noted that he feels the Washington education system is currently in crisis.

"We must do more to help our educationally disadvantaged students," Spady said. "Charter public schools will help these children, but the voters have apparently decided to give the regular public school system more time to solve this crisis on its own."

Initiative 297

One measure voters across the state turned out to support was Initiative 297, which deals with radioactive hazardous waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The initiative adds new previsions concerning the waste, making it necessary for the waste that is at the site to be cleaned up before any more waste can be brought into the facility.

In Yakima County, 61.66 percent of voters voted for the measure, compared to 68.51 percent who approved it across the state.

Proposition No. 1

Locally, Yakima County voters approved Proposition No. 1, which called for a three-tenth's of a penny increase in the county's sales tax to help fund the area's criminal justice system.

The proposition will be in effect for a six-year period before it is brought back to the voters.

Throughout Yakima County, 56.04 percent of voters voted for the proposition.

The proposition is expected to raise $6.1 million annually for the Yakima County criminal justice system, with the funds being dispersed to law enforcement agencies throughout the county.


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