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Thousands vote by mail

As of midweek more than 6,500 voters is Island County had already cast their ballots in the Nov. 6 general election.

No, they didn’t cheat. They voted by absentee ballot, and as of Thursday 6,588 ballots had already been returned to the Island County Auditor’s Office.

Absentees returned before election day are processed by checking signatures and otherwise getting them ready to count, but they will not be counted until after the polls close on Nov. 6.

Loann Gullick, the elections officer in the Auditor’s Office, said 22,000 absentee ballots were mailed out last month. That represents well over half of the county’s 40,346 registered voters.

More people will be voting absentee this election than before, because some won’t have a choice. In a cost-cutting move, Auditor Suzanne Sinclair recently declared certain precincts “mail only” because of their comparatively low number of voters. On North Whidbey, those precincts include Penn Cove, Scenic Heights, and Oak Harbor 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. All voters in those precincts should already have received their mail-in ballots.

Sinclair points out that the absentee ballots don’t have to be mailed to her office. Voters can deposit their ballots at any Island County polling place on election day. For information about polling place locations, call the Auditor’s Office at 679-7366, see the list printed in the legal section of the Oct. 31 Whidbey News-Times, or check the county voters pamphlet mailed to all registered voters.

If returning the absentees by mail, make sure they are postmarked no later than Nov. 6, Sinclair advises. Any postmarked after election day can not be counted.

For those who still vote the traditional way, the polls will open Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7 a.m. and close that evening at 8 p.m.

In the City of Oak Harbor, there is only one contested race for city council, where Eric Gerber and Howard Thomas are vying for position 5. Running unopposed are Nora O’Connell-Balda, Sheilah Crider, Robert Davis and Danny Paggao.

For Oak Harbor School Board, Position 5 is being sought by John Bartlett and Gary Wallin, while Kathy Chalfant is running unopposed.

For Coupeville Town Council, Roxallanne Medley and Phillip Williamson are competing for Position 5. The Position 2 race is between Robert Clay and E.M. Spromberg. Frank Tippets is unopposed for Position 4.

In the Coupeville School Board contest, the District 2 seat will go to either Brian Montana or Mitchell Howard. Running unopposed are Deborah Turner for District 5 and Donald Sherman for District 3.

There will also be a number of fire district, water district and parks district positions on the ballot, as well as statewide initiatives. The best know is I-747 which would limit property tax increases to 1 percent annually.

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