By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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There are two deadlines to return or mail ballots containing their choices for federal, state, regional and local offices.
If mailed, ballots must be postmarked by this afternoon to be counted in the general election.
The second deadline, for those who opt not to mail, is 8 p.m., when ballots must be dropped off at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles, or at two other locations:
-- Sequim City Hall, 152 W. Cedar St., Sequim.
-- Forks District Court lobby, 502 E. Division St., Forks.
The county Auditor’s Office received 4,196 ballots Monday, bringing the total to 26,870 received out of 47,105 issued — a 57 percent turnout so far.
Auditor Patty Rosand said she expects voter turnout to at least equal the 85.7 percent turnout of 2008, when Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain and the county had 1,339 fewer voters.
Back in 2008, Clallam County voters picked Obama over McCain, 51 percent to 47 percent, with independent candidate Ralph Nader garnering 1 percent.
“It was crazy then, and, yes, it’s crazy today,” Rosand said.
“Cars are coming in by the [courthouse] drop box regularly, and lots of people are coming in for replacement ballots.
“It’s nothing like you see in the news in large cities, but it will be steady.”
Ballots will be tabulated at 8 p.m. today and during the day Friday.
Ballots must be tabulated every three days, or sooner if 500 or more are ready for tabulation.
Rosand urged voters to remember to sign their ballot-return envelopes. Unsigned ballots take longer to process, she said.
Election workers will be available at the courthouse until 8 p.m. to answer questions and assist voters with replacement ballots, Rosand added.
Counties must certify the election results by Nov. 27.
While they last, copies of the free North Olympic Peninsula Voters Guide, published Oct. 19 by the Peninsula Daily News as a public service, are available at public locations such as the courthouse, City Hall, senior centers and libraries.
It also is available online by clicking the Voters Guide button at the bottom of the homepage at www.peninsuladailynews.com.
At the top of the ticket, Democrat Barack Obama is favored to carry Washington’s 12 electoral votes in his battle with Republican Mitt Romney for the White House.
The race to replace Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire is a tight contest between Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna.
Voters also will weigh in on statewide executive offices as well as ballot measures on same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization, charter schools and tax limits.
Polls suggest that U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell will comfortably win re-election.
About 3.9 million are registered to vote in Washington, and Secretary of State Sam Reed has predicted voter turnout at 81 percent, a bit lower than the state’s record of 85 percent in 2008.
The historic average is 79 percent.
Reed has predicted that up to 60 percent of the expected vote will be counted by election night, leaving another 40 percent of ballots left to be counted, either en route by mail or left at the drop boxes counties have set up.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.