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"Absentee ballots out in record numbers, again"

"Nearly 70,000 absentee ballots – a record for Kitsap County – will be mailed today by the county auditor for the general election Nov. 2.Also in the mail for voters is a voters pamphlet prepared by the auditor’s elections department.The pamphlet provides information on local candidates throughout the county, plus election information.The approximately 68,000 absentee ballots requested so far for next month’s election beats the previous Kitsap County record for absentees of 65,000-plus in the 1998 general election.It also tops the 53,000 requested for this year’s primary election in September. The county has 124,354 registered voters, meaning more than half plan to vote by mail between now and the election on their local candidates and four statewide ballot measures.Except for 1993, when the number dropped about 7,000 to 12,484 total, absentee voting’s popularity has increased for every election in the past six years – to 21,156 in 1994, 26,782 in ‘95, 44,431 in ‘96, 54,034 in ‘97 and 65,534 in ‘98. Smaller numbers are distributed for primaries, when voter turnout traditionally is lower.“The increase has become an annual thing,” said Dolores Gilmore, a county elections official. “Every year, it’s like we’re running two elections – one by absentee and one at the polling places.”Voters who haven’t already requested an absentee ballot can still get one through Nov. 1. To be counted, the ballots must be completed, signed and postmarked no later than the day of the election in order to be counted.Absentees are being mailed today in accordance with state law, which allows them to become available to voters 20 days before an election.####"

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