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Mail-in ballots already rolling in
Voting entirely by mail — which Kitsap County is doing this year for only the third time — may take the carnival atmosphere out of election day, but you’d have a hard time arguing it doesn’t increase the levels of participation.
Based on preliminary estimates, it appears up to 70 percent of eligible Kitsap voters will be casting ballots in this year’s general election, which concludes on Tuesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, “We’ve already received 46,741 ballots,” said Kitsap County Elections Manager Delores Gilmore. “We were projecting about a 65 percent turnout this year, but we’re already more than halfway to 65 percent and we still have several days left.
“If the current trends continue,” she said, “we’re now estimating a turnout of about 70 percent, which is huge for a mid-year election.”
Gilmore said the procedure would be to begin counting on Tuesday morning all the votes that have been received by the end of the day Monday.
“We don’t post any results until the polls have closed at 8 p.m.,” she said, “but we should be able to post our first count just a few minutes after 8.”
Because elections officials anticipate receiving another 10,000 or so votes by the end of the week, the first count may or may not tell the final story.
“We count every vote that was postmarked before the deadline,” Gilmore said. “We’ll continue to do that right up until the vote is certified on Nov. 23.”
The Elections Office had received 465 “challenge” ballots by Wednesday, meaning they were either mismarked, unsigned or flagged for some other reason.
“We’re already contacting these people asking them to clear up the problem,” Gilmore said. “Those ballots will continue to trickle in until the very last minute.”
Gilmore said it’s possible the elevated voter turnout could simply mean people have gotten the hang of all-mail elections, which have been the rule in Kitsap County since 2008, and cast their ballots early.
“Or it could be that everyone is just fired up to vote this year,” she said. “We won’t really know until all the ballots are in and counted.”