Mail ballots due Tuesday

Election Day will be like any other next Tuesday, Sept. 20, on Whidbey Island.

There will be no election workers opening polling places before the dawn’s early light, no citizens flocking to the polls, no voting machines, nobody hurrying to vote before the polls close at 8 o’clock.

In fact, there will be no polling places next Tuesday, as Island County is conducting its first countywide vote-by-mail primary election. Voters prone to procrastinate will have to think about post office hours and postmark deadlines rather than polling place hours.

Although ballots were mailed out nearly three weeks ago, plenty of people still haven’t voted. Loann Gullick, Island County elections officer, said Friday that 28,948 ballots were sent out countywide, but as of that morning only 8,800 - about 30 percent - had been returned.

North Whidbey primary voters will be deciding on the maintenance and operation proposal from the Park and Recreation District. The six-year levy rate of 18 cents per thousand or less will provide the money needed to keep John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool operating. The measure needs 60 percent approval to pass.

For elective office, there is one Oak Harbor School Board position on the ballot. Corey Johnson, Ace James III and Brien Lillquist are seeking a seat being vacated by incumbent Kathy Chalfant. The top two vote-getters will face off in the November general election.

In the Coupeville School District, Mark Varljen, Cindy VanDyke, Larrie Ford and Mitchell Howard are all seeking the seat presently held by Howard. Again, the top two will advance to the general election.

The only other North Whidbey primary race is in the Admirals Cove Water District, where Chad Nichols, Kathleen Jones and Reid Greenwood are competing for a board position.

On South Whidbey there’s a port district contest with Geoff Tapert, Gene Sears, Lawrence Dobrin and Wally Russell seeking the seat presently held by Sears.

On Camano Island, voters are being asked pay a property tax of 15 cents per thousand for Mosquito Control District 1.

Postal officials recommend mailing ballots early to assure they will be postmarked no later than election day, Sept. 20.

At the Oak Harbor Post Office, carrier Paula Huss recommends people drop of ballots no later than 3 p.m. Sept. 20. “It all goes to Everett to get postmarked,” she said.

In Coupeville, carrier Dee Holwitz said voters can drop off ballots until 4:15 and still get the Sept. 20 postmark.

For those who don’t want to buy a stamp or who need even more time to decide, the Island County Auditor’s Office in the Courthouse in Coupeville will stay open until 8 p.m. Sept. 20. After that, the counting will commence.

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