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Look for preliminary election results here in 2 1/2 hours; turnout about 33 percent so far in Pierce Transit bid for sales tax hike

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on Feb. 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm with No Comments »
February 8, 2011 5:40 pm

First returns on today’s all mail-election on proposals for a sales tax increase to fund transit, a bond issue in the Peninsula School District and a fire district merger in Lakewood and University Place will be available in just under three hours.

But already we know that nearly 123,000 voters have cast ballots in Pierce County. That’s just about a third of the 374,478 registered voters within the Pierce Transit boundaries.

That’s according to ballots received by the Pierce County Auditor as of this afternoon.

Turnout in the Peninsula School District is just under 46 percent – or 18,372 votes cast. In Lakewood, about 33 percent of voters – 8,950 – had ballots received – and ready for counting as of this afternoon.

Overall, Pierce County Elections Manager Mike Rooney expects turnout in the range of 37 to 40 percent, he said this afternoon.

He expects that forecast will hold up once all the mail-in votes and some in-person ballots are totaled. Though it’s officially an “all-mail” election, there are three “accessible” polling places for people who need help casting ballots.

The first run of vote tabulations should be available at about 8:15 p.m., Rooney said. A second run should be posted around 9:15.

Here are the issues:

Pierce Transit Proposition 1: The agency is seeking a three-tenths of 1 percent boost in the local sales tax to shore up sagging finances due to recessionary losses. Without it, transit officials say, they’ll be forced to cut bus service by about 35 percent. If approved, the measure would raise the local sales tax that helps fund the agency from .06 percent to .09 percent on a dollar. It’s a 50 percent increase, so the Pierce Transit portion of the sales tax would go from six cents on a $10 purchase to nine cents on a $10 purchase if approved.

• Peninsula School District: A $78 million capital bond proposal for modernization and upgrades at every elementary, middle and high school in the district and to buy land for a new elementary school. The issue requires a 60 percent supermajority for passage. Peninsula last passed a bond issue in 2003. In that election, some 43 percent of registered voters cast ballots and the measure won with 60.89 percent of the vote.

• Lakewood Fire District: Proposition 1 would merge Lakewood Fire District 2 with University Place Fire District 3 to form West Pierce Fire & Rescue. It requires a simple majority for passage.

If you have a ballot and haven’t returned it yet, it must be dropped off at the Pierce County Elections office or one of many Express Booths or boxes around the county by 8 p.m. Or they it may be postmarked by midnight Tuesday.

You can find a list of ballot drop off locations here.

There also are three accessible voting locations for people who need help casting their ballots. That list is here.

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