Staff at the Clark County Elections office are already busy processing ballots for the Nov. 8 general election. County Auditor Greg Kimsey said his office received more than 34,500 ballots as of Friday, accounting for 10.61 percent of the county’s 325,987 eligible voters.
Will high-profile races like the battle between Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Republican Joe Kent for the 3rd Congressional District result in more voters turning in their ballots this year than a typical midterm election? Kimsey thinks it will.
“We’ve been using 70 percent as our estimate. The 2018 midterm was right at 70 percent,” Kimsey said Friday. “We think 70 percent is a reasonable estimate, but we’ll see.”
The number of ballots returned on the first day in Clark County was anything but robust. Just 155 ballots were received Oct. 21. Those numbers picked up later in the week, though, with more than 10,000 ballots returned Wednesday and over 12,500 ballots coming in Thursday.
Early ballot returns from the first five days are down slightly from the last midterm election, however. During the first five days of the 2018 midterms, the county elections office received 38,139 ballots.
If early voting in other states is any indicator, voter turnout could be even higher than what elections officials are forecasting. In Georgia, turnout on the first day of early voting was nearly double the first-day results from 2018. Florida is in the lead for voter turnout nationwide, with nearly 2.2 million ballots cast so far.
Of course, it’s who and what are on the ballot that is driving voter turnout. Kimsey said voters have a high level of interest in several races. Beyond the battle between Kent and Perez, voters are also watching the Clark County sheriff’s race between Chief Criminal Deputy John Horch and Vancouver police Cpl. Rey Reynolds.
Other races of interest include the three Clark County Council seats, for districts 1, 2 and 5; six charter amendment measures, one of which would allow ranked choice voting for the county’s nonpartisan elected offices; and the Clark Public Utilities Commissioner race between Don Steinke and Nancy Barnes.
Ballots can be returned by mail, delivered in person at the elections office at 1408 Franklin St. in Vancouver or deposited in one of the 22 ballot drop boxes across the county. Ballots must be returned or postmarked by 8 p.m. Nov. 8. For a list of drop box locations, go to https://clark.wa.gov/elections.
Preliminary voting results will be posted at approximately 8:15 p.m. Nov. 8, with additional results posted daily as long as there are 500 or more ballots to process. Elections results will be certified on Nov. 29.
Registered voters who have not received a ballot can request a replacement ballot at VoteWa.gov or in person at the elections office.