The ballots were sent out this week.…how does all this work?

Posted April 5, 2013 at 12:52 am by

Milene Henley

Milene Hen­ley

Here’s the word from Milene & the Coun­ty Elec­tions folks:

San Juan Coun­ty has not had an April elec­tion for at least 20 years (that’s how far back we looked).  But this week, you will receive your bal­lot for our upcom­ing April elec­tion.  Not sur­pris­ing­ly, there’s a lot of con­fu­sion about this elec­tion:  Why are we hav­ing it?  Why are we hav­ing it now?  What races do I get to vote in, and why?

Hop­ing to head off some of the con­fu­sion ear­ly, I’ve pre­pared a list of ques­tions and answers about the April election.

Q.  When is the April election?

A.  Elec­tion Day is April 23.  Bal­lots go to the post office April 3.

Q.  Why are we hav­ing an April election?

A.  The first of the three Char­ter amend­ments adopt­ed by the vot­ers last Novem­ber changed the num­ber of Coun­ty Coun­cil mem­bers from 6 to 3.  In order to expe­dite imple­men­ta­tion of the Char­ter changes, the amend­ment required a Feb­ru­ary “pri­ma­ry” elec­tion and an April “gen­er­al” elec­tion to select the three new Coun­cil members.

Q.  What races will be on the bal­lot in April?

A.  All three new Coun­cil posi­tions will be on the bal­lot.  In addi­tion, Lopez Island School Dis­trict is run­ning a mea­sure to issue a cap­i­tal bond.

Q.  Which races do I get to vote in?

A.   The first Char­ter amend­ment not only changed the num­ber of Coun­cil mem­bers, it also changed the way the posi­tions are elect­ed.  It pro­vid­ed that the three Coun­cil mem­bers be res­i­dents of des­ig­nat­ed “Res­i­den­cy Dis­tricts,” but be elect­ed by all vot­ers with­in the coun­ty.  The three Res­i­den­cy Dis­tricts are:  Res­i­den­cy Dis­trict 1, San Juan Island and neigh­bor­ing small islands; Res­i­den­cy Dis­trict 2, Orcas Island and neigh­bor­ing small islands; and Res­i­den­cy Dis­trict 3, Lopez, Shaw and neigh­bor­ing small islands.

Because the new Coun­cil Res­i­den­cy Dis­trict posi­tions are all elect­ed coun­ty-wide, every vot­er in the coun­ty will get to vote for each posi­tion.  Specif­i­cal­ly, San Juan Island vot­ers will vote not only for the Coun­cil mem­ber from San Juan, but also for the mem­bers from Orcas and Lopez/Shaw.  The same goes for Orcas and Lopez/Shaw vot­ers:  every vot­er will get to vote for every position.

Only vot­ers in the Lopez Island School Dis­trict will vote on the Lopez Schools cap­i­tal bond.

Q.  How many can­di­dates do I vote for in each Coun­cil race?

A.  You will vote for one in each race.  Some vot­ers have been con­fused by the State’s “top two” pri­ma­ry sys­tem.  “Top two” means only that the top two vote get­ters in a pri­ma­ry progress to the gen­er­al elec­tion; it has nev­er meant that vot­ers get to vote for their top two can­di­dates.  The April elec­tion will have only two can­di­dates in each race and an option for a write-in.  As usu­al, vot­ers will be instruct­ed to vote for one candidate.

Q.  When will the new­ly elect­ed Coun­cil take office?

A.  The elec­tion will be cer­ti­fied on Tues­day, May 7, and the new Coun­cil mem­bers will be seat­ed on Mon­day, May 13.

If you have more ques­tions of your own, please con­tact me or Elec­tions staff at (360) 378‑3357.  For more infor­ma­tion about can­di­dates or the Lopez School bond mea­sure, check out the online vot­ers’ guide, already post­ed at

F. Milene Hen­ley is the Coun­ty Audi­tor and ex offi­cio Super­vi­sor of Elec­tions for San Juan County.

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