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Monday, May 29, 2023
May 29, 2023

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No surprise in trickle of ballot returns

County says 12% of eligible voters have sent in ballots for Aug. 6 primary

By , Columbian staff writer

With less than a week to go before Election Day, only 12.41 percent of eligible voters have returned their ballots.

Elections Supervisor Cathie Garber said Monday that she expects 25-28 percent voter participation for this election. “Although we would love to have a large turnout, historically, odd-year primaries have a low turnout,” she said.

In this election, voters are deciding on city council positions in Vancouver and Battle Ground, three Vancouver school board races and a county council race, among others.

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said Monday that he expects more ballots to come in. Often about a third of the ballots are received by mail a couple of days after the election, he said.

Garber pointed out that this year postage is free when mailing ballots, but if you are waiting until the last day to vote make sure to take your ballot into the post office. Ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 6. “Or consider using one of our seven 24-hour drop boxes,” she said.

Aug. 6 primary

A note to people who have not received ballots: Ballots are in the mail to all registered voters in County Council District 4; the cities of Vancouver and Battle Ground and the Town of Yacolt; residents of Vancouver Public Schools and Green Mountain School districts; and areas covered by Emergency Management Services District 1 and East County Fire and Rescue for the Aug. 6 primary.

Some areas of the county, including Ridgefield, will not have any races in the primary and will not get ballots. Everyone will get a ballot for the November general election.

For those who need a replacement ballot, visit https://www.clark.wa.gov/elections/replacement-ballot for help.

For a full list of voting sites, visit www.clarkvotes.org.

Garber also noted that this year Washington is implementing a new statewide ballot registration system.

“We’ve got great confidence in this system,” she said. “We will continue to review it, making everything we do part of an auditing process.”

Kimsey said that the new system is not perfect. “It’s definitely been a challenge to get that to work the way that it is supposed to,” he said.

The problem?

According to Kimsey, under certain circumstances the system is creating a second ballot for voters. When a ballot comes in incomplete or is otherwise questionable it becomes a challenged ballot. Those ballots are not counted until the voter is able to fix the ballot. A letter is sent out and a call is made, but the new system is sometimes taking an extra step and generating a new ballot.

“We are having to manually make sure that the second ballot doesn’t go out,” Kimsey said.

Kimsey said that even though the system would not count a second ballot, voters could be confused.

Garber said that this is one example of why they are treating this voting process like an audit. She said the problem was discovered right away and that she believes that it has already been fixed.

Columbian staff writer