MONTESANO — Grays Harbor County Auditor Vern Spatz says he’s expecting voter turnout for Tuesday’s General Election to be lower than the state’s rate of return, based on the way ballots have been coming in to date.
“I hope I’m proven wrong,” Spatz said.
As of Friday afternoon, about 17,900 ballots have come in out of 38,244 ballots sent out. That’s a turnout, so far, of 46.8 percent.
Secretary of State Sam Reed is expecting a “robust” 81 percent turnout from the state’s 3.9 million registered voters, an all-time high. Katie Blinn, state elections co-director, said that the current rate of return on ballots statewide may very well exceed the prediction.
Spatz said to get to that level, the county typically would need to get 60 percent of the turnout by Election Day, with the rest coming in through ballots dropped off that day or in the mail the few days following.
“Depending on the numbers that come in on Monday, I’m thinking, we may get a 75 percent turnout, maybe 80 percent, if we’re lucky,” Spatz said.
In 2008, the county turnout was about 81 percent of 36,702 registered voters. In 2004, the county had a 77 percent turnout out of 36,642.
This year saw more new registered voters and more “inactive” voters, who have not voted in years, return to the voter rolls.
Julie Colacurcio, the county’s elections administrator, said that there have been 318 voters with signature issues or other problems with their ballots that need to be resolved before those ballots will be counted. Letters have been sent to the voters to help fix the problems by Nov. 26, the day before the election results are to be certified.
All ballots are due by Tuesday and the first batch of results will be released online shortly after 8 p.m., when the “polls” close.
The next batch of results will be released on Friday. For any close races, the Friday count will be the big determination because those first results won’t include any of the ballots turned in on election day.
Colacurcio says that all votes will be counted, but if you want your vote in that first batch of results, get it in by Monday.
Spatz notes that although the rest of the County Administration Building will be closed on Friday, the elections office will continue to be open because of special permission granted by the county commissioners. The commissioners have implemented once-a-month temporary layoffs for all employees in the County Administration Building. The three workers helping with the election will take their lay-off day another time. That way, the next batch of results can be released in a timely manner.
Spatz also refuted a recent bit of news that Grays Harbor ballots require two stamps. Not true, Spatz said.
“We did weigh our return ballot packets,” Spatz wrote in an email. “They weigh in at barely .9 oz. thus only requiring one stamp to return the packet. They are heavier because the ballot is larger — i.e. 11x17 — than previous elections but not quite enough to push it over to require another stamp.”
Those not wanting to mail their ballots in can drop them off anytime between now and Election Day at the 24-hour curb-side drop box in front of the County Administration Building, 100 W. Broadway in Montesano, and the drive-up box at the YMCA of Grays Harbor, 2500 Simpson Ave. in Hoquiam.
On Election Day, drop-off boxes will also be open all over the county. The boxes are inside the Methodist Church at 204 E. Harris St. in Oakville; VFW Post No. 5564, 158 Summit Rd in McCleary; the Ocean Shores Convention Center, 120 W. Chance A La Mer Ave. in Ocean Shores; the council chambers at 506 N. Montesano St. in Westport; and inside the Grays Harbor YMCA. The Auditor’s Office inside the administration building also has a drop-off box.
All drop-off spots are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. The Auditor’s Office is also open during regular business hours on Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., though it is closed during lunch hour.
Pacific County has sent ballots to 13,420 registered voters. Turnout information was not immediately available, although records show that the registered voters are higher than in previous years.
In 2008, the county had 13,052 registered voters and registered an 85 percent turnout. In 2004, the county had 13,171 registered voters and 81 percent turnout.
Drive-up ballot boxes are located at the Pacific County Courthouse, 200 Memorial Drive in South Bend, and the County Administration Building at 7013 Sandridge in Long Beach.