Absentee election goes smoothly

Although some purists rued the day that Island County elections switched exclusively to vote by mail, a handful of county employees were pleased with the less burdensome operation.

“It went pretty smooth,” said Michele Reagan, voter registration deputy. “We’re done counting the bulk of the ballots.”

Auditor Suzanne Sinclair said in March that the impending change was considered to help make the process easier for voters and less vulnerable to error, and to keep Island County voters on an equal footing with the majority of other Washington state voters.

As of Wednesday, 25,366 ballots had been counted with 46 provisional ballots and 65 ballots with signature issues waiting to be added.

“It’s very common for family members to sign each other’s ballots,” Reagan said. “It’s not fraud. Those ballots do get counted.”

The election saw a comparatively high turnout, with a 59.93 voter participation rate. The last ballots to count are for people who either forgot to sign their name or situations in which their signature did not match the county’s copy. People have until 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 26 to fix the ballot issue. The canvassing board will certify the results the following day, Nov. 27.

Three weeks before the election, voting centers were open in Coupeville and on Camano Island. On election day, voting centers opened in Oak Harbor and Freeland.

“We had quite a few people who brought their ballots in,” Reagan said, estimating that 10 percent of the voters opted to deliver their ballots in person and save the cost of a stamp.

Disabled access voting machine units were available at each station, but the voter registration deputy said not one person used them.

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