Friday, November 3, 2006

Heavy voter turnout expected Nov. 7

Absentee ballot requests hint at above-average response

Express Staff Writer

Two signs advocating the opposing candidates for the Blaine County Commission seat for District 3, incumbent Sarah Michael and challenger Mickey Garcia, stand side by side Wednesday in Ketchum. Election officials believe interest in this year?s government races and ballot measures is particularly high. Photo by David N. Seelig

All indications point to above-average voter turnout in Blaine County for the Tuesday, Nov. 7, election, according to County Clerk Marsha Reimann.

Reimann said she bases voter turnout projections on the number of absentee ballot requests.

So far, 1,133 absentee ballots have been returned in Blaine County this year, up from a total of 919 in 2002, which was the last gubernatorial election year. Voter turnout in 2002 was 66 percent. In 1998, only 54 percent of registered voters turned up at the polls.

"I think our turnouts are getting progressively larger," Reimann said. "I think we're going to have a very good turnout."

Reimann said over the past week between 75 and 100 absentee ballots have been filled out per day.

"It's been busy," she said.

Today is the last day absentee ballots can be requested via mail, but they can be filled out and returned as late as 5 p.m. Nov. 6, the eve of the election.

"We welcome them. It's part of our responsibility," Reimann said.

A heavy slate of initiatives and weighty national issues should only fuel voter turnout, Reimann added.

In Blaine County, the races that have garnered the most attention are two contests for seats on the three-member Blaine County Commission. In District 1, representing southern Blaine County, Democrat Larry Schoen is facing off against Republican Dale Ewersen. In District 3, representing northern Blaine County, incumbent Sarah Michael is being challenged by Mickey Garcia.

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