Week before election, one-quarter of state ballots in
With a week to go until Election Day, just under a fourth of the state's eligible voters have returned their ballots. A county-by-county assessment by...
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — With a week to go until Election Day, just under a fourth of the state's eligible voters have returned their ballots.
A county-by-county assessment by The Associated Press found that as of Tuesday, more than 820,000 ballots had been returned by the state's 3.6 million voters, or about 23 percent. Counties say a steady stream of ballots are coming in daily.
State Elections Director Nick Handy said the secretary of state's office estimates about 50 percent of the projected vote will be in by Friday, with the rest coming in next week.
"The closer we get to the election, the returns are going to just increase each day, and will crescendo Monday or Tuesday of next week," Handy said.
Ballots were sent out Oct. 17, and must be postmarked by Tuesday.
Thirty-seven of the state's 39 counties are voting entirely by mail. King and Pierce counties still have poll sites, though a majority of voters in those counties already vote by mail.
In the August primary, 95 percent of all votes were submitted by mail.
Secretary of State Sam Reed has predicted an 83 percent turnout statewide — about 3 million people — with some counties expecting their individual turnout numbers to be even higher.
King County, which has 1.1 million voters, is predicting an 85 percent turnout, and elections spokeswoman Bobbie Egan was encouraging voters to get ballots in early.
Egan said the earlier that ballots are in, the quicker election workers can certify signatures and do other prep work to make sure they are counted quickly, "instead of drawing it out one to two weeks after Election Day."
King County, the state's most populous, expects to be able to count 100,000 ballots on Election Day, and 90,000 to 100,000 daily after that.
"It takes a certain amount of time to stage those ballots before they get to tabulation," Egan said.
The statewide general election turnout average since 1936 is 78.85 percent. The record turnout in modern times was 84.5 percent in 1944.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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