Pepper Fisher

PORT ANGELES – Clallam County voters are flooding ballot drop boxes at a rate that County Auditor Shoona Riggs has never seen.

“Never. This is a historic turnout like we’ve never seen before. Within days of the voters receiving their ballots, we’ve received over 8400 ballots in our drop boxes over the weekend. And then when our mail got here today, we have approximately ten thousand ballots on hand, which puts us at 17 percent return rate already.”

That’s compared to 3.5% return rate on the first weekend 4 years ago. Riggs says she and her team were anticipating a big turnout early, but nothing prepared her for the phone call she got on Saturday.

“We had planned on emptying the boxes this weekend on both Saturday and Sunday, but on Saturday, at approximately 1:45, I received a phone call from law enforcement notifying me that they had received reports stating that the Sequim drop box in front of JC Penney was full. So I immediately requested to have officers at the box to help us redirect traffic to our Carlsborg dropbox until I could deploy staff to arrive and empty that box.”

Riggs says drop boxes are now being emptied multiple times per day to keep up.

With voter turn-out predictions by Riggs and others of 80-90% or more, merely counting ballots is nothing compared to tabulating how people actually voted. To get a head start, Riggs says election officials have begun processing ballots today.

“We are processing the ballots ahead of time. There would be no way we would be able to be processing thousands and thousands of those ballots on election night in order to get you results. So that’s why we start processing them early by sending them through the scanners so that the tabulation system has those images in the system before election night. We just aren’t tabulating anything.”