The clock is ticking now: If you're reading this on Monday morning, you have just over 24 hours remaining to find the place where you stashed your ballot for Tuesday's election, fill it out and return it to one of the drop-off boxes scattered around the mid-valley.
It is too late to mail in your ballot: It won't arrive at county elections offices by the 8 p.m. Tuesday deadline.
We know that many of you have decided that it's not worth your time to vote in this election. As of Friday afternoon, voter turnout in Benton County was a shade less than 23 percent. Earlier last week, turnout in Linn County was a bit over 16 percent.
We understand, to some extent, the lack of enthusiasm among some voters for this election: The ballot doesn't contain any riveting national races. The highest-profile state political race is the Republican contest to see who will challenge Gov. Kate Brown in November (although we think that particular race is fascinating).
But, as is often the case in these off-year elections, the ballots in both Benton and Linn counties are packed with races that are worthy of your attention — and could have an impact on your pocketbook, even if you don't vote.
In Linn County, for example, voters will determine the fate of a request to renew the county's law enforcement levy, which helps fund a variety of services, including the Linn County Sheriff's Office and the County Attorney's office. Albany voters will vote on a proposed 5 cents per gallon city gas tax to help pay for repairs and maintenance of roads in residential areas. Linn County voters also will weigh in on a relatively rare ballot occurrence — two contested races for Linn County Circuit Court judges. (If you need background on those county judicial races, our websites feature profiles of the candidates and the Oregon State Bar has useful information about the candidates as well; the online version of this editorial includes a link to the State Bar site.)
Harrisburg School District voters also will decide an $8.9 million bond to pay for repairs and renovations to the district's school buildings.
In Benton County, voters are faced with a $199.9 million bond measure from the Corvallis School District that would rebuild two schools from scratch and pay for renovation work at the district's other schools. But the measure would increase taxes, and other taxing jurisdictions in the county will be watching closely to see how the measure fares.
Democratic voters in Benton County also will determine their party's nominee for the county commission seat that Anne Schuster will vacate at the end of her term. It's been the wildest commission race in years, with three of the six candidates (Vince Adams, Pat Malone and Nancy Wyse) seemingly separating themselves from the rest of the pack. The result of the race may say something about whether the county's Democratic Party is continuing an apparent turn to the left.
So, regardless of what side of the river you live on, it's apparent that there's quite a lot at stake in what at first glance may seem like a low-wattage election. But these often are the ones that really make a difference in the quality of our local lives — from the size of our tax bills to the status of our schools and criminal justice systems, all the way to the judges who preside over our courts.
It's an election you'd be foolish to miss out on.
So find your ballot and fill it out. Make a mental note to swing by one of the ballot drop-off boxes today; it leaves too much to chance if you leave this task until tomorrow. And then you can be assured that your voice will count in an election that will have a real impact on our local communities. (mm)