Fewer than 20 percent of the more than 120,000 primary election ballots sent out in Benton and Franklin counties had been returned by the end of last week. But officials are hoping for many more to come in.
Ballots are due Tuesday for a 12-person race for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, as well as primaries for county offices. There are also a couple of tax propositions.
So far, officials in both counties say the number of ballots turned in has been similar to past primaries.
In Benton County, 19.3 percent of the 99,772 ballots issued had been returned as of Friday. Franklin County saw 18.41 percent of 30,323 ballots mailed or dropped off.
"We're always hopeful to get them all back, but it seems to be in line with the last two early August primaries," said Franklin County Auditor Matt Beaton.
Stuart Holmes, Benton County's elections administrator, is still expecting a large wave of ballots.
"Traditionally, in a candidate-filled election, we will get 50 (percent) to 60 percent the day before or the day of the election," he said.
Holmes expects between 35 percent and 40 percent voter turnout for the election.
The congressional election will be narrowed to the top two candidates from a field of eight Republicans, two Democrats and two independents. Also eliminating candidates will be three-person county commission races in each county, as well as the Benton County assessor's race.
Benton County has a county-wide vote for a three-tenths of a percent public safety tax, while people who live in Benton Fire District 4 can vote on whether to continue paying $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value for fire services.
A number of other partisan races where candidates are either unopposed or facing just one challenger also appear on the ballot. But those candidates will advance to the Nov. 4 general election unless a write-in is among the final two vote-getters. The only declared write-in candidate is Frank Blair, who is challenging state Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton.
Beaton encourages people to vote.
"I hope people will take interest in the administration of their government," he said. "The way that works is through the electoral process."
Both counties have online voters' guides on their websites. Stories about the election are also available at www.tricityherald.com/election.
Ballots must be postmarked no later than Tuesday to be counted, or they can be placed in secure drop boxes until 8 p.m. in each county.
In Benton County, drop boxes are at the Prosser courthouse, 620 Market St.; the auditor's annexes at 5600 W. Canal Drive in Kennewick and 101 Wellsian Way, Suite E, in Richland; the Benton City, Kennewick and West Richland city halls; and Jefferson Park in Richland.
In Franklin County: Franklin Fire District 3, 2108 Road 84, Pasco; the election center at 116 N. Third Ave., Pasco; TRAC, 6600 Burden Blvd., Pasco; and the county courthouse at 1016 N. Fourth Ave., Pasco; and the Franklin Public Utility District's Connell shop, 619 W. Clark Street.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom