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Washington state's voter rolls bursting

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington has a record 3.88 million voters registered for the Nov. 6 general election, and the number continues to grow by several hundred a day.

The current total is nearly 150,000 voters higher than the number on the rolls for the state primary in August.

“We’ve never been in this range before,” Katie Blinn, co-director of elections for the Secretary of State’s office, said. “It’s actually growing as we talk.”

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In Idaho, voter rolls are down slightly from their peak in 2008, although voters can still register at their county elections office and can register and vote at their poll site on Election Day.

Washington’s deadline passed last week to fill out a paper registration form and mail it in, or to register online. But would-be voters can still go to their county elections office in person until Oct. 29, fill out a form and turn it in. Military and overseas voters can continue to register online.

Between the “walk-in” registrations and the paper forms that were mailed before the deadline but are still being processed in some county elections offices, the voter rolls are still growing by several hundred a day, Blinn said.

Her boss, Secretary of State Sam Reed, predicted a “robust” turnout of 81 percent in this election, driven by the presidential race, a close governor’s race, plus congressional and legislative races and “some of the most compelling ballot issues in the country.”

Washington voters have a chance to decide such issues as legalizing same-sex marriage and personal marijuana use, allowing public charter schools and extending supermajority requirements for tax increases. Supporters and opponents from around the country of same-sex marriage, as well as national supporters of legalized marijuana, have contributed millions to those campaigns.

Mail-in registration closed Friday in Idaho so the counties can prepare the voter lists for the poll sites. The state currently has 784,137 registered voters, down from the record set in 2008 when 861,869 residents were on the voter rolls.

But Idaho residents who aren’t registered can still sign up by going to their county clerk’s office during business hours. They’ll receive a ballot at that time. Or they can go to their local poll site on Election Day with valid photo identification and proof of residence – a lease, utility bill or other document that has their name and the current address – to register and cast a ballot.

Washington votes exclusively by mail. Most voters should receive their ballots in the next few days, as county elections offices have until today to get their ballots in the mail. Spokane County finished its mailings Thursday.

Those ballots must be marked, placed in envelopes that are properly signed, and either mailed or deposited in drop boxes located at key locations.
 

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