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San Juan County voter turnout expected to reach 90 percent

The Elections Department A Team processes ballots today in the county elections office. As of Monday at 5 p.m., the A Team had processed 8,385 ballots, of 11,579 ballots mailed out. Ballots must be postmarked by 3 p.m. today or dropped in an elections ballot box by 8 p.m. - Richard Walker
The Elections Department A Team processes ballots today in the county elections office. As of Monday at 5 p.m., the A Team had processed 8,385 ballots, of 11,579 ballots mailed out. Ballots must be postmarked by 3 p.m. today or dropped in an elections ballot box by 8 p.m.
— image credit: Richard Walker

Libby Nieland of the Secretary of State's office watched as San Juan County elections workers processed ballots in the tight quarters of the elections office.

She was impressed.

"They are doing well with what they have," Nieland said Tuesday of the 10 ballot processors working in the small space under the watchful eye of observers from the Democratic and Republican parties.

Elections Supervisor Doris Schaller said today she expects local voter turnout will reach 90 percent. Ballots must be postmarked by 3 p.m. today. If you miss the post office, you have until 8 p.m. to drop your ballot off at the county Elections Department at Second and Reed streets, or in a drop box in front of the County Courthouse, the Lopez Fire Station or the Orcas Senior Center.

History will be made today:

— San Juan County voters will help elect either the first African-American president or the first female vice president.

— The San Juans could send an islander to the state Senate for the first time in about 100 years.

— The County Council will have two new members. One will succeed Kevin Ranker of South San Juan, who opted to run for state Senate than for reelection. Another will succeed Alan Lichter of Orcas West, who lost in the primary.

— For the first time, the County Council will be comprised of members elected under the county charter, which was adopted in 2005.

Also on the ballot: Governor and other state offices.

Islanders seem to have a sense of the historic importance of this election. As of Monday night, 8,385 ballots had been received by the elections office. That's 74 percent of the 11,579 ballots mailed out.

Worries of glitches in urban areas didn't materialize in this rural county. Schaller said all processing was going along without a hitch, and the two major political parties had observers on the scene. In addition, attorney Lynn Bahrych was also present for the Democratic Voter Protection Resource Center.

Nieland, of the Secretary of State's office, said she was present as part of a tri-annual election day visit. She said the Secretary of State's office monitors to ensure elections offices comply with applicable laws and "to see if there is any way we can help them."

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