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Election Day

Nov. 4 Election: Issues many, votes few so far

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Election Prep

Cowlitz County Elections Supervisor Carolyn Fundingsland adjudicates some problematic ballots Monday afternoon before marking them ready for counting Tuesday night.

On the eve of Tuesday’s general election voting deadline, Cowlitz County ballots continued to trickle in at a time when election officials expected a last-minute deluge.

About 28 percent of the ballots had been turned in by the weekend, officials said. By Monday afternoon, 36 percent had been returned.

Despite being a midterm election year (no presidential race), local ballots are sprinkled with hotly contested races.

Washington voters will decide the fate of competing gun initiatives, and an initiative that would shrink class sizes.

All State House of Representatives positions are on the ballot, including districts 19 and 20 in Southwest Washington.

Local races include Cowlitz County commissioner, sheriff, prosecutor and clerk, as well as Cowlitz PUD commissioner.

Oregon voters will decide on governor, legalizing marijuana, requiring labeling on genetically modified foods and allowing those not in the U.S. legally to obtain a driver card.

Cowlitz County Elections Supervisor Carolyn Fundingsland said Monday she remains hopeful the county will have a 68 or 69 percent voter turnout, similar to the voter turnout at the last midterm election in 2010.

“Typically we get about 50 percent of the ballots in on the last three days,” Fundingsland said. “We’re not seeing that this time.”

To get to the 68 percent turnout number, Fundingsland said, the county would have to receive about 16,000 ballots Tuesday. In all, her office mailed out 56,000 ballots to registered voters in mid-October, and about 20,000 had been returned as of Monday.

Elections staffers will collect ballots three times Tuesday to avoid an overflow at drop-box locations. No ballots will be accepted past 8 p.m. unless someone already is waiting in line to drop off a ballot, Fundingsland said. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday.

Voter turnout in Columbia County has been outpacing Cowlitz County. As of Monday, nearly 42 percent of ballots had been turned. About 11,800 ballots of the 28,350 sent out have been returned.

Oregon voters must have their ballots to the elections office by Tuesday. Ballots mailed now will likely be too late to be counted. Instead, voters should drop off their ballots at the elections office at the Columbia County Courthouse in St. Helens. No other drop boxes will be open in the county Tuesday.

Shari Phiel covers Cowlitz County government, transportation and environmental issues for The Daily News. Reach her at 360-577-2510 or sphiel@tdn.com.

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