"Primary ballots will be all-mailHigher turnout, lower costs are cited by countyelection officials."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:57 PM
"All-mail balloting comes to the off-year primary election this fall, the first time ever for Kitsap County voters.The decision was announced Friday, after a hasty effort by Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn to get all local jurisdictions - the four Kitsap cities, as well as fire, school and park districts - to sign on. Flynn cited the increasing popularity of mail balloting, even with voters who won't be far from polling places when election day rolls around.The process that we've always called 'absentee' is actually an option to vote by mail, rather than an option to be absent, Flynn said.Too, considerations of cost came into play. Polling places are staffed for 14 hours on election day, manned with paid workers who in a low-turnout election might be collecting only a handful of votes.From an administrative point of view, and a position of logic, it didn't make sense to open the polls, Flynn said.Historically, in low-profile primaries and special February elections, turnout can be less than 30 percent. Flynn expects to more than double that by going all-mail this year. The recent sales tax increase to support Kitsap Transit was all-mail, and was hailed as a success for its high returns.It's quite dramatic, she said. We know that it's increasing voter participation, and we think it's a mighty fine mechanism that's in place.Absentee ballots will mailed out starting Aug. 29. To be counted, they must be returned to the elections office postmarked no later than Sept. 18. Flynn cautioned that just dropping a ballot in the mailbox on the last day won't guarantee that it's postmarked in time, and urged voters drop them off early.Also, for those who procrastinate or who insist on putting a ballot in a box, several special ballot drops will be placed throughout Kitsap County. Their locations have yet to be determined.Voters who haven't received mail-in ballots by Sept. 7 should call the auditor's office elections division at (360) 337-7128. "