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County set for its first all-mail primary

"The staff at the Kitsap County Auditor's Office was a bit on edge last Thursday.With one day remaining before a mandatory deadline, officials were uncertain whether or not this year's primary election would proceed as all vote-by-mail. Despite having consent from cities, school districts and fire districts from throughout the county, Auditor Karen Flynn still needed approval from both the Bremerton and Central Kitsap school districts.The decision from all the districts, she said, had to be unanimous for the all mail-in primary to proceed.We're sitting on pins and needles here, she explained earlier this week. This tense situation dissipated early Friday though, as a relaxed Flynn reported that the remaining two school districts had joined the cities of Bremerton, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island, the North and South Kitsap school districts, the Bainbridge Island fire district and the Annapolis Water District in supporting the method.It was good news for the auditor's office, Flynn said, who said the vote-by-mail primary would be the first ever in the county.We just conducted vote-by-mail for Kitsap Transit and for the stadium but this is the first time we've tried it for a primary, she noted.But while the mail-in system is easier on the Auditor's Office in terms of tallying ballots, getting consensus from nine separate entities before Friday's deadline was a real test. The department had about one week after the filing period closed to garner support.The logistics trying to pull it off is really, really hard, Flynn said.The end result, she added, will be worth it.An astounding 80 percent of voters in Kitsap voted by mail in 2000 primary even though just over 60 percent of registered voters at that time were permanent registered voters, she pointed out, noting that 70 percent of all votes in the 2000 general election came from absentee voters.Typically this kind of election not very visible to voters so this really makes sense, she said.Absentee ballots mailed out starting Aug. 29. Auditor Flynn estimated that the entire process might take a few days to complete. Mail-in ballots will be accepted by the office through Sept. 18 and must be postmarked accordingly.It's not good enough to drop off in the post office on that day, Flynn said, adding that sometimes mail is delayed until the next day.To counteract this, the auditor's office will place special ballot drops throughout Kitsap County. Polling places will not be offered during the primary.Citizens who haven't received mail-in ballots by Sept. 7 are encouraged to call the auditor's office elections division at (360) 337-7128. "

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