EVERETT — Ballots will be mailed today to a record number of registered voters in Snohomish County, moving the election process into its final decisive stage.
Sixteen voters didn’t wait for the mail.
On Wednesday, they went down to the county elections office and made their choices on touch-screen voting machines set up there.
“It is getting started,” said Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel. “We are seeing a lot of activity at our counters and on the phones indicating it will be a very active election season.”
Snohomish County’s total of 367,755 registered voters is third most in the state and is about 15,500 more than it had in 2004. Weikel is predicting 85 percent of them will participate.
With the mailing of ballots comes a sense of “cautious excitement,” she said.
“This is a huge election. We are choosing a president. We are electing a governor. And we are under intense scrutiny, and we will continue to be through the election,” she said.
Everything will be closely monitored because of the experience of 2004 when the governor’s race was decided by 133 votes following recounts and a court case.
The state Republican Party, which unsuccessfully contested the result, already is loading up for potential post-election litigation.
Party lawyers asked Snohomish County for copies of all documents that it gives to the county, state and national Democratic Party organizations as well as Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire’s campaign.
“They’re beginning to collect their data,” Weikel said, adding she’s been told to expect more public records requests every few days until the election.
The Republican Party also wants documents sent under public disclosure to organizations such as the ACLU, Brennan Center for Justice and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). In 2006, ACORN canvassers faced charges in Washington for submitting 1,760 falsified registrations.
Election officers in each of the state’s 39 counties received the same demand from the political party.
“We just want to know what these various and sundry liberal organizations are up to,” party Republican chairman Luke Esser said. “We don’t want any surprises this time around. It is all part of our efforts to try to make sure we don’t have any of the problems that emerged in 2004.”
Democratic Party lawyers have not made a similar request.
As of Wednesday, no problems had surfaced. Weikel said she knew of three people whose registrations have been revoked because they were found to be too young to vote.
Much of the focus today is getting the ballots to voters and to ensure they know to return them by or on Nov. 4.
Also, election workers will be helping those who will be voting by mail for the first time after years of doing so at a polling place.
Many voters do not realize polling places are no longer in use in the county, Weikel said. Those who call the auditor’s office seeking the address of their polling site are told a ballot will be mailed to them directly.
Voters who don’t want to mail their ballot can drop it off at the county election office. Also, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 4, a number of ballot collection centers will be open around the county.
For those who have never voted in Washington and want to participate in this election, there is still time to register.
The deadline is 5 p.m. Monday. They must register in person at the county elections office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. today, Friday or Monday.
The office also will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We were going to be here anyway doing election related work and we wanted to provide an opportunity to those people who work Monday through Friday and might not be able to get into our office,” Weikel said.
The auditor’s office is on the first floor of the Snohomish County Administration Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett.
Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or email@example.com
Where to vote
Ballots can be dropped off at collection centers starting Oct. 30. Voters with disabilities can cast ballots on touch-screen machines at accessibility centers. Election workers will be on hand to assist voters.
Locations will be staffed 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 1 and 3; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 4
Community Collection Centers
Food Pavilion, 146 Haller St. E., Arlington
Starbucks, 3617 172nd St. NE, Arlington
QFC, 22833 Bothell-Everett Highway, Bothell
QFC, 22828 100th Ave. W., Edmonds
QFC, 4919 Evergreen Way, Everett
QFC, 2615 Broadway Ave., Everett
Family Grocer, 1111 Croft Ave., Gold Bar
Red Apple, 115 N. Granite Ave., Granite Falls
Joe’s, 519 Highway 9, Lake Stevens
QFC, 17525 Highway 99, Lynnwood
QFC, 7500 196th St. SW, Lynnwood
Staples, 105 Fourth St., Marysville
Starbucks, 3701 88th St. NE, Marysville
QFC, 926 164th St. SE, Mill Creek
Galaxy Theaters, 1 Galaxy Way, Monroe
QFC, 22803 44th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace
QFC, 11700 Mukilteo Speedway, Mukilteo
Starbucks, 1101 Ave. D, Snohomish
QFC, 27008 92nd Ave. NW, Stanwood
Red Apple, 807 W. Stevens Ave., Sultan
Arlington Library, 135 N. Washington Ave., Arlington
Edmonds Library, 650 Main St., Edmonds
Everett Public Library, 2702 Hoyt Ave., Everett
Lynnwood Library, 19200 44th Ave. W., Lynnwood
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 7215 51st Ave. NE, Marysville
Mill Creek Library, 15429 Bothell-Everett Highway, Mill Creek
Monroe Library, 1070 Village Way, Monroe
Mountlake Terrace Library, 23300 58th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace
Mukilteo Library, 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd., Mukilteo
Snohomish Library, 311 Maple Ave., Snohomish
Stanwood Library, 9701 271st St. NW, Stanwood