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Originally published Monday, November 5, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Editorial: Not too late to vote, make your voice heard

Smile, Washington voters. The rest of the nation is watching how this state decides a contentious gubernatorial race and ballot measures with national implications.

Seattle Times Editorial

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Washingtonians don’t have to think too far back to understand the value of every vote. In the 2004 gubernatorial race, it took two recounts to determine Democrat Chris Gregoire had beaten Republican Dino Rossi by a mere 133 ballots out of 2.8 million ballots cast.

Once again, the results of this year’s local and federal races may take days to settle. If recent polls are any indication, there will be plenty of nail-biters. In addition, there are more registered voters than ever — 3.9 million in all. That’s up more than 400,000 from 2004 and includes 180,000 new participants since the August primary.

Participation is likely up because the stakes are so high.

For the first time since 1980, voters may choose to move a Republican into the governor’s mansion in Olympia. The GOP is just a few seats away from taking over the Washington Senate.

Meanwhile, our famously progressive state is on the verge of leading the way on two major cultural issues: legalizing marijuana and approving a legislative measure that would give same-sex couples the right to marry. On the education front, some at-risk children may soon have the option of attending charter schools.

Voter participation — and patience — will be crucial in the coming days.

Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts Tuesday’s general election will produce an 81 percent turnout statewide.

It’s not too late for the other 19 percent to have a say in where this state should be headed.

Washington allows ballots to be postmarked on election day — be sure to check that mail will still be picked up after you drop your ballot in the mailbox. Or ballots may be dropped off at official locations by 8 p.m.

To find your nearest ballot drop-off, go to:

www.sos.wa.gov/electionsor check seattletimes.com for links.

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