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State anticipates 'watershed' year for voter turnout


Washington’s 2016 Election voting period is under way, with counties mailing nearly 4.2 million ballots and the state anticipating a robust turnout of at least 80 percent.

The deadline for a postmark is Election Day, Nov. 8, and drop boxes may be used before 8 p.m. that day.

A record 4,250,526 Washington residents are registered. About 72,000 military and overseas ballots were mailed by Sept. 24.

“We are seeing exceptional interest in this presidential-year election,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “Since April, more than 250,000 new voters have registered, including an unprecedented surge of 50,000 just before this month’s deadline for online, motor voter and mail-in registration.”

Wyman stressed that despite recent reports of Russian attempts to hack state election systems and attacks on “rigged” elections, “We have full and complete confidence in the integrity of our system. Elections professionals will treat every voted ballot will great care and security. Every vote will be tabulated as the voter intended.”

The state is working with cybersecurity experts and independent reviewers to make sure the system remains secure, and county tabulation systems are air-gapped and not hooked up to the Internet, said state Elections Director Lori Augino.

“We have multiple layers of security, both physical and electronic,” Wyman said.

Wyman and many county auditors are recommending that the 2017 Legislature adopt REAL ID legislation that will give election administrators a tool for assuring that voters who register document their citizenship, as required by state and federal law.

Although the presidential race has drawn much of the media and voter interest, voters will also choose the governor and other statewide elected officials. Five of the incumbents are not seeking re-election: lieutenant governor, treasurer, auditor, lands commissioner and superintendent of public instruction. For the first time, a statewide race will feature two finalists from the same party. Republican candidates for State Treasurer finished 1-2 in the Top 2 August Primary and advanced.


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