Our Voice: Today is last chance to get your school levy ballot counted

February 10, 2014 

Special elections can sneak up on voters. Even people who intend to vote sometimes miss the deadline.

And those couple of hundred votes have made the difference between a measure passing or failing.

If your ballot is still on your counter or dashboard, you have to have it postmarked or deposited in a a drop box by 8 p.m. today.

As of Monday, about 27 percent of the almost 30,000 ballots for Franklin County had been returned. Benton County reported similar results from its more than 90,000 voters.

That's a pretty poor showing.

Election officials project only about 40 percent of the ballots will come back. So this message is really for the other 60 percent of the population -- vote. But do so in an informed manner.

There is a part of our collective spirit that wants everybody to vote. Let's shoot for 100 percent participation. But the more reasoned voice whispering in the other ear says that we might be better off if the people who don't consider the issues and do some research just stay away from the ballot.

Some people always will vote no when it comes to taxes -- any tax -- for any reason.

Some people always will vote yes when it comes to schools, regardless of how well -- or poorly -- the stewards of the money have performed.

We encourage voters to take the time to look up their school district's webpage and find out what the expiring levy is and compare it to what the proposed replacement levy will be.

We encourage voters to consider what the cost of the levy would be to them in terms of dollars -- and social consequences.

Levies ensure money is available for the "extras" such as sports, music and transportation.

People don't want to pay taxes. But they also don't want to live in an area with poor schools or where kids wander the streets with nothing to do. Which do you "not want" more?

Most of the Mid-Columbia's school districts have a levy on the ballot.

Benton County will be counting ballots for school levies in Kennewick, Finley, Prosser, Grandview and Richland school districts.

Franklin County has Pasco, North Franklin, Othello, Kahlotus and Washtucna levies.

We have met with the Richland, Pasco and Kennewick school districts. We have discussed what they have done with the money they collected during the past two years and why they need the money they are requesting for the next two years.

In these three cases, we are convinced the school districts are making reasonable requests and encourage voters to approve their levies.

But, with an even stronger conviction, we encourage voters to do a little research and to vote their conscience.

And to do it today.

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