Clark County Elections Office worker John Waterbury unlocked the ballot drop box at West 14th and Esther streets and murmured: “Wow.”
Saturday marked the first day the elections office collected ballots from drop boxes, many voters having received their ballots Friday. Voter turnout is expected to be high, 90 percent, and voters have been encouraged to submit their ballots as early as they can. It appears they’re doing just that.
Waterbury and Les Stark, another elections office employee, went through the process of unlocking and unsealing the drop box, placing the ballots in plastic bins and sealing those bins. The pair recorded the seal numbers and placed a new seal on the ballot drop box.
Meanwhile, people continued to drop off their ballots, the occasional line forming at the downtown drop box.
Sharon Grammar took pictures of herself as she submitted her ballot.
“I’m making my vote count,” she told The Columbian. “I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote. It’s our constitutional right.”
Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said his office has gotten ballots for weeks from military and overseas voters, who received their ballots on Sept. 26. Clark County residents who are traveling could also request early ballots. About 7,000 ballots were issued prior to Friday, which is when 309,111 voters began receiving their ballots in the mail.
Saturday, Stark and Waterbury collected ballots from downtown, Clark College, Vancouver Mall and the 99th Street Transit Center. Kimsey said drop boxes will be checked frequently, sometimes multiple times a day. There are 23 deposit locations throughout the county, including the elections office at 1408 Franklin St.
Among the most frequently asked questions from local voters is ‘when am I going to get my ballot’ and ‘how do I vote in person?’ For those who feel most secure voting in person, they can bring the ballot they received in the mail to the elections office and hand it to a volunteer between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day. Anyone opting for the latter should expect a long line, said Kimsey, who encourages people to vote as early as they can.
By voting early, there is more time to confirm a ballot was received by the elections office. Voters can visit votewa.gov to check the status of their ballot or call the elections office at 564-397-2345.
On election night, two volunteers will be stationed at each drop box to ensure ballots are submitted before 8 p.m. (unless people are still waiting in line).
Kimsey emphasized that voters in Clark County and the rest of the state should have a high level of confidence in the vote-by-mail process. It has a high level of access, integrity and security, he said.
One satisfactory aspect of working in the elections office, Kimsey said: “Everyone feels strongly about the importance of the process.”