Good spirits among voters prevailed, even as they were met with lines at many King County polling places this morning — though nothing like the multiple-hour waits being reported elsewhere in country. The county experienced few complaints from voters or glitches in the system.
Good spirits among voters prevailed, even as they were met with lines at many King County polling places this morning — though nothing like the multiple-hour waits being reported elsewhere in country.
Nobody complained about waiting in a line 50- to 60-people deep to vote this morning at T.T. Minor Elementary in Seattle’s Central District. Instead, they thanked poll workers.
“I’ve never seen long lines like this,” said Eva Vassar, 86, a longtime poll worker.
Voting traffic has settled to a slower, more manageable pace this afternoon. But poll sites could get crowded again in the hours before they close at 8 p.m.
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“We’re definitely seeing stronger turnout than usual, but we have not heard that any one polling place is being overwhelmed,” said Brooke Bascom, a King County Elections spokeswoman. “For voters concerned about long lines, be assured that if you are in line at 8, you will be able to vote.”
King County election officials declared success in getting through the morning rush. The county experienced few complaints from voters or glitches in the system.
A handful of early-morning voters at Whitworth Elementary School in Southeast Seattle had to fill out their ballots a second time after their first ballots, part of a supply dampened by the morning rain, failed to get read by electronic tabulators.
At Mount Baker Presbyterian Church, also in Southeast Seattle, early voters were mistakenly given provisional ballots, but the error soon was corrected.
None of the glitches prevented anyone from voting, Bascom said.
At King County Elections headquarters in Renton, where absentee ballots are being counted today, tabulation machines were down for about two hours this morning. But Bascom said the county is still on track to count between 90,000 and 100,000 mailed ballots by this evening, which was the original projection.
The county’s voter help line, 206-296-VOTE, received a high volume of calls this morning, so officials responded by adding 12 more lines, for a total of 82, in order to meet demand.
Today is the final time King County voters can go to the polls, as all future elections will be conducted via mail ballot. Today’s voters are receiving commemorative “Farewell to polls. I Voted!” stickers from poll workers.
In Washington, only King and Pierce counties are offering poll-site voting, as all other counties have converted exclusively to mail.
Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts an 83 percent voter turnout statewide, which would be the largest in 60 years.
In King County, which accounts for one-third of the state’s voters, election officials predict a record 85 percent turnout. An estimated two-thirds of the county’s registered voters, or about 750,000 people, are voting by mail. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by midnight to be eligible.
Statewide races, including the high-profile race for governor between Democratic incumbent Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi, could be hard to call tonight. King County, where Gregoire is expected to run strong, expects to count only 39 percent of its total vote by the time it shuts down for the night at 1:30 a.m. Counting will continue tomorrow, with the goal to have 97 percent of the vote — all but overseas and military ballots — tallied by next Tuesday.
At the polls, voters eagerly waited for the doors to open at 7 a.m. at Sunset Hill Community Club in Ballard, where the line stretched from the doors to the sidewalk and down the street.
At Meany Middle School in Seattle’s Central District, 33-year-old Kate Akyuz said she couldn’t stop grinning after dropping off her mail-in ballot inside the auditorium.
“I wanted to physically see it go into the box — somehow it didn’t seem right to mail it,” she said. “There’s way more energy this year — you can feel it all around.”
Stuart Eskenazi: 206-464-2293 or email@example.com. Seattle Times staff reporters Sara Jean Green, Michelle Ma and Erik Lacitis contributed to this report.