August could be decisive for Superior Court Judge race

Special to the S-E

Most positions have two candidates

Ten years ago there were two candidates for Stevens County Prosecutor, both Republican. Voters that year were surprised to learn that the August primary ballot, which some had not bothered with, decided the race.

“That was under the old primary system,” explained Tim Gray, Stevens County Auditor.

The new primary system is unique in that, where there are more than two candidates, the top two vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, will appear on the November ballot. So a race could see, for example, two Democrats facing off, or two Republicans.

This year, there are several positions on the primary ballot with only two candidates. But, where those candidates are not from the same party, both will again appear on the November ballot, according to Gray.

To the General

Stevens County ballots have three positions with just two candidates. Since all the candidates are from different parties, all will go on to the general election in the fall.
One unique race this year is the Superior Court Judge Position Two contest. In the running are Jessica (Taylor) Reeves, Dave Turplesmith and Terry L. Williams. The position is non-partisan, and typically the top two vote-getters go on to the November ballot.

But, Gray says, if one of those three candidates gets 50 percent plus one vote or more, they go on alone to the general election in the fall.

The only way they would not win the Superior Court Judge seat under if a solo contestant is if a write-in candidate overwhelmed them.

State election law also says none of August’s primary candidates can be a write-in.

With ballots having been sent out recently, some are starting to be mailed back to the Elections office. Gray says the first task is to check signatures. If someone forgets to sign their ballot, they will get a call from the Elections Department.

There are times when a signature doesn’t match that found on a past voter registration record. The office then attempts to verify and or update the signature.

Class C felony

“Sometimes we find out Mom signed for Dad,” Gray said. Not a good idea: “That’s a Class C felony of $10,000 worth of trouble.”

After the outer envelope is opened, party observers are invited to witness the rest of the process, wherein the secrecy envelopes are separated from the ballots, making all ballots unidentifiable with the voters who cast them. After that, the final tally is made.

Primary ballots are due to be returned on Tuesday, Aug. 2 and cannot be postmarked after that day to be valid.

As seen in the July 27, 2016 edition of the Statesman-Examiner.