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Originally published Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 4:44 PM

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First wave of primary election results bigger than expected

The first round of results for the Aug. 18 mail-only primary should include about half the ballots cast in King County. Today's primary includes competitive races for Seattle mayor and King County executive.

Seattle Times Eastside reporter

Even the elections workers get swept up in the frenzy. King County Elections employees have been working faster than expected, matching voters' signatures and preparing ballots for tabulation. Tonight's first wave of primary-election results will include about 180,000 ballots, or just over half the predicted turnout, spokeswoman Megan Coppersmith said.

That's 30,000 more than the county originally expected would be ready for tonight's tally.

Today's primary is the biggest test yet for King County's all-mail elections, with competitive races for Seattle mayor and King County executive. The county is expecting a turnout of about 33 percent, or about 350,000 ballots cast. The county conducted its first mail-only election in February for elections director, a smaller contest.

The county received 182,108 ballots as of Monday at 8 p.m., according to its elections Web site. Because ballots only need to be postmarked by Election Day, final results will take several days.

For this election, the county used new and faster machinery, which scan and tabulate ballots. Once a ballot arrives at elections headquarters in Renton, elections employees need about two days to verify signatures with the ones on file, a step that safeguards against voter fraud, and check ballots for additional problems.

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or ntsong@seattletimes.com

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