Ballots for the Nov. 6 midterm election are being returned at a pace closer to a presidential contest, which historically sees the highest voter turnout, officials said Wednesday.
“We’re gotten a huge amount” of ballots returned a week before the deadline, Whatcom County Auditor Debbie Adelstein said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.
“A lot of times people will just set aside their ballot and wait,” Adelstein said. “Obviously, they’re making a big effort to get it in.”
Some 48,245 ballots had been returned by Wednesday noon, according to the Auditor’s Office website.
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That’s compared to about 50,000 ballots Adelstein said had been returned at this time in the 2016 presidential election.
And at this time in 2017’s off-year election, just 22,000 ballots had been returned, she said.
Turnout was 46 percent in 2017, and 83 percent in 2016, according to the Auditor’s Office website.
Washington state doesn’t require voters to register by party, so Adelstein said it’s impossible to know how many Democrat or Republican ballots have been returned.
Some 142,497 Whatcom County residents are registered to vote in the Nov. 6 general election, compared with 139,813 registered voters in the Aug. 7 primary — an increase of 2,684 voters.
Registration closed Monday and the Auditor’s Office was busy with first-time applicants who registered in person, Adelstein said.
Ballots must be postmarked before 8 p.m. Tuesday, and officials are urging voters to mail their ballots soon to ensure that they’re counted.
Postage is free, paid for by the state to encourage turnout because Washington votes entirely by mail.
Adelstein said that if voters don’t mail their ballots by the weekend, they should drop them into one of 18 ballot collection boxes at locations across Whatcom County before 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Whatcom ballot box locations
Drop boxes close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
▪ Acme Elementary, 5200 Turkington Road.
▪ Blaine Library, 610 3rd St.
▪ Birch Bay (North Whatcom Fire & Rescue), 4581 Birch Bay-Lynden Road.
▪ Custer Elementary, 7660 Custer School Road.
▪ Courthouse South Parking Lot, 201 Grand Ave.
▪ Deming Library, 5044 Mt. Baker Highway.
▪ Everson WECU, 106 E Main St.
▪ Ferndale City Hall 2095 Main St.
▪ Lummi Nation Administration Building, 2665 Kwina Road.
▪ Lynden Library, 216 4th St.
▪ Meridian (Laurel Grange), 6172 Guide Meridian.
▪ Kendall (North Fork Community Library), 7506 Kendall Road.
▪ Point Roberts Marketplace (8 a.m.-10 p.m.), 480 Tyee Drive.
▪ Sehome Haggens, (northeast corner of the parking lot), 210 36th St.
▪ Sudden Valley Sudden Valley Security Turnaround, Gate One.
▪ Sumas, 534 Railroad Ave.
▪ Whatcom Community College, 237 W Kellogg Road.
▪ WWU (outside Wade King Student Recreation Center), 1880 Bill McDonald Parkway.