Even for an off year, ballot returns trend low

EVERETT — So far, the number of ballots marked and returned to Snohomish County is trending on the low side for an odd-year general election.

As of Monday, 32,371 ballots had been returned to the county elections division, out of more than 412,000 that were mailed to voters Oct. 17, election manager Garth Fell said.

That’s about 7 3/4 percent.

The town of Index was the leader with more than 14 percent of its ballots returned by Monday morning, according to figures on the elections division website. Mukilteo was bringing up the rear with just under 6 percent. Everett was at about 7 1/4 percent.

Usually, in a fall election in an odd-numbered year, about 45,000 ballots have been returned a week before the election, Fell said.

The final odd-year turnout averages about 48 percent, meaning roughly 197,000 ballots would need to be returned to reach the average.

Fell said the trend could change. About 40 to 50 percent of ballots are usually returned before election night, he said.

“Based on past trends, it appears we’re coming in a little lighter than that, but every election is different,” he said.

This year’s ballot includes contested races in three Snohomish County Council districts, along with statewide initiatives and races for city councils, school boards and other local boards and commissions.

All county voters should have received their ballots by Oct. 22, Fell said.

A voter may either return a ballot through the mail or bring it to one of 11 free drop-off locations around the county. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 5.

The drop boxes are accessible 24 hours a day until 8 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 5. Voters also may drop off their ballots from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office, in the county administration building at 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett. Hours will be extended on Election Day to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Snohomish County Elections has voting equipment designed for voters with disabilities available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday (Election Day) at the Auditor’s Office and the Lynnwood Library, 19200 44th Ave. W.

The Snohomish County elections office may be reached at 425-388-3444.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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