Ballots for November’s Election Going Out in Benton County
The Benton County Auditor's Office announced the date they will be mailing ballots for the coming November election. State law requires a minimum window of 18 days for registered voters to fill out and return their ballots.
The November 7th general election is called an 'off-year' election. That means all of the races are at the local level. Depending on the City and County you live in, you may be asked to vote for Judges, School Board, City Council, Mayor, Port Commission, Fire Protection District, and/or Cemetery District candidates.
What are the "Big Races"?
In truth, all local races are "big races". You are voting for people that have the most direct impact on your life, your wallet, and your laws. School Board Directors make decisions on the direction of your district. They vote to accept budgets, curriculum, negotiated contracts, and set the course for the Superintendent and administrators to follow.
City Council Members pass ordinances that effect taxation, permitting, certain utility rates, business, and construction and development to name a few. They also approve budgets and disbursements of tax dollars. They approve negotiated contracts for police, fire, and city employees and they hire/fire the City Manager when necessary.
What if I'm Not Registered to Vote?
It's a simple fix. If you 18 years old and a US Citizen, you can register to vote. You can register up and to 8:00 pm on Election Day by going to the Benton County Voting Center at 2618 N. Columbia Center Blvd., Richland or the Prosser Courthouse at 620 Market St., Prosser.
You can return your ballot via mail, but it needs to be postmarked November 7th at the latest in order to be counted. That means taking the speed of the Post Office in to consideration. You can also take your ballot to secured drop boxes (like the one pictured above) until 8pm on election day to ensure your vote is counted.
The Most Important Thing to Remember though...
Sign your ballot the same way you signed your driver's license! One of the main reasons for ballot discrepancies is the signature. If your county asks you to verify your signature, make sure you do so in order to avoid the discarding of your ballot. If they can't prove it is you it won't be counted. Follow the tips in your voters’ pamphlet regarding signing your ballot before it is returned.
Benton County will be mailing ballots October 17th. The last day for voters to have their ballot in hand is October 20th to give them the state mandates 18 day window. If you do not receive a ballot, or lose or damage your ballot, you can request a replacement from Benton County by calling (509) 736-3085 during regular business hours.