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Ballot didn’t baffle voters

The “Montana-style” ballot used in Tuesday’s primary — which stands a good chance of replacement by the next election year — didn’t seriously disrupt Tuesday’s vote, according to Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn.

“I don’t think voters were confused,” she said. “There were a lot of people who didn’t want to vote in a partisan contest, who wanted to vote for people in both parties, as they have always voted in this way.”

Still, Flynn said, “A lot of people didn’t like this voting process. They felt as if their choices were taken away.”

Flynn added that voters from out of state are accustomed to party declaration and couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. On the other hand, voters who have crossed party lines for 70 years and perceive the ability to do so as an inalienable right were often frustrated.

To plan further elections and ballots, Flynn and other auditors are working with a wealth of data. Among these facts:

• 98 percent of Kitsap voters were aware of the system before arriving to vote;

• 75 percent of voters found the process to be easy;

• 90 percent found the instructions clear;

• 88 percent found the ballot to be easy to undersand;

• 70 percent were confident their privacy was protected;

• 84 percent were confident the votes were accurately counted;

• 99 percent of poll workers said they were treated respectfully by voters; and,

• 85 percent of poll workers felt voters adequately understood the ballot.

Throughout, a dislike of the new system became apparent. Seventy-nine percent of those polled expressed displeasure with the new ballot. Aside from answering the poll, Flynn said several voters added negative comments to the ballot itself, indicating why they did not like the new system in specific terms.

Most of these complaints, Flynn said, had to do with a perceived restriction of voting rights.

Such protests evidence a definite ingnorance of the system, Flynn said. Many people write long disstertations about the ballot’s shortcomings then go to the trouble of signing their missives.

“I know people sign their opinions because they want to be honest,” Flynn said, “But attaching a name to a ballot makes in invalid.”

Flynn said her office had no plans to collect data about the type of protests. “We are in the business of counting valid ballots, not invalid ones,” she said.

Exactly one-third of registered Kitsap County voters participated in Tuesday’s election, which Flynn said was a “pretty good showing” for a primary.

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