Evan Smith: More conservation election issues

Sunday, March 21, 2010

By Evan Smith, ShorelineAreaNews Politics Writer
  
I wrote a few days ago about the lack of accessible voting in the recent election for a position on the King Conservation District board.

I got a quick response from an official with the State Conservation Commission. He presented the possibility of offering absentee ballots to disabled voters.

Then, I pointed out the issues I had raised here just before the election – that the election is out of sequence with other elections; that few people participate, meaning that special-interest groups can dominate the election; that there is no primary, meaning that a candidate can win with a small plurality; and that the election lacks the mail voting that we’ve become accustomed to.

What I found out is that most conservation districts in the State have no tax revenue, that they operate primarily on grants and that the commission operates elections like the recent one in King County on a small administrative budget that’s not big enough to pay for the cost of paying a share of participating in general elections.

The Conservation Commission official told me that districts in some part of the State had participated in general elections a decade ago but had yet to come up with money to pay for their share of the election.

He said that getting an exemption from payment requirements might lead to similar requests from other entities and could put a financial strain on counties.

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