News

Votemobile an election success

By CHARLIE BERMANT

Kitsap County writer

The Kitsap County Elections Office declared its recent Votemobile program a success, even if it was responsible for only about 100 votes.

“It was a federal requirement to provide equal access to everyone who wants to vote,” said Kitsap County Elections Supervisor Dolores Gilmore. “We thought the Votemobile was a better option than setting up a few more machines on election day and forcing people to come to those locations.”

Providing such access is a condition of becoming an all-mail county, which the Kitsap commissioners approved in 2005.

The Votemobile, a voting machine-equipped van, visited 19 locations between Oct. 25 and Nov. 5. Most were senior centers.

While 31 people used the machines to vote, another 67 dropped off their printed ballots during the scheduled visits.

Gilmore said the experiment worked and she doesn’t believe the program will require any further tweaking for the next election, the Feb. 19 primary.

In theory, more people will vote at that time because it will be to choose presidential candidates. But Gilmore said the voters in the primary must declare party affiliation, and this requirement has traditionally depressed voter turnout.

Looking forward to the fall 2008 election, Gilmore predicts as many as 250 people will take advantage of the Votemobile. This is based on the projections of about 2 percent of the 100,000 ballots received.

The Votemobile is a 2005 Chevy Van which was already in use by the Auditor’s Office for transporting materials. It was retrofitted with a chair lift and tie-down mechanisms to move the heavy equipment.

It carried two voting machines to each location, which were either moved into the facility or connected within the cargo area.

The truck is equipped for entry and exit through different doors, just like a regular polling place.

The Kitsap County Votemobile is a pilot project with the results closely watched by other Washington counties, according to the Auditor’s Office.

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