Jefferson, Clallam see uptick in voter registration

The counties’ election offices are bracing for a busy few weeks as the Nov. 8 voting cutoff date approaches.

Jefferson and Clallam counties are seeing increased voter registration as the Nov. 8 election approaches, and election offices are preparing for even busier weeks to come now that ballots have been mailed out.

“Registration numbers are way up from what’s normal,” said Ken Hugoniot, the elections coordinator for Clallam County. “There’s definitely been big numbers compared to other elections; the even-year elections are nothing compared to general and presidential elections.”

Hugoniot said it’s common to see more new voters registering during presidential elections, and this year is no exception.

New registrants

Between Oct. 10 and Wednesday, Jefferson County registered 81 new voters in person. Wednesday alone, it registered eight new voters.

Clallam County has registered 175 new voters since Oct. 11.

That brings Jefferson County’s active registered voter count to 24,330 and Clallam’s to 50,654.

According to Jefferson County Elections Coordinator Betty Johnson, presidential elections tend to attract large numbers of new voters because they garner quite a bit more publicity.

“In 2012, we almost had everyone in our offices helping people fill out paperwork and register in person,” Johnson said. “Normally, presidential and general elections are pretty nuts.”

Presidential elections also tend to have high voter turnouts.

In 2008, more than 90 percent of Jefferson County’s 22,160 voters participated, and in 2012, more than 88 percent of 22,756 voters participated.

In 2012, more than 82 percent of Clallam County’s 47,157 registered voters participated.

This year’s ballots were mailed Wednesday, and Jefferson County has already received more than 200 early ballots back. According to a Thursday news release, they’ll begin processing ballots Friday rather than waiting until next week.

With ballots mailed Wednesday, Hugoniot said it’s likely not all Clallam County voters have received their ballots, so the office hasn’t seen a large number of ballots back yet.

“People have been dropping their ballots off in our offices but not many, and mostly members of the military, since they got their ballots 30 days ago,” said Hugoniot.

The deadlines have passed for online registration and for voters currently registered in Washington state to change their county registration.

However, new voters can continue to register in person until Oct. 31, and military or U.S. citizens overseas can continue to register online.

The Jefferson County Auditor’s Office is located at 1820 Jefferson St. in Port Townsend and the Clallam County Auditor’s Office is at 223 E. Fourth St., Suite 1 in Port Angeles. Both offices are open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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