Silveredale incorporation vote down to the wire

"With only days to go until the incorporation election, nearly half of the Silverdale absentee ballots have already arrived at the Auditor’s doorstep.As of Thursday morning, the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office reported 1,639 returned absentee ballots of 3,820 mailed out. That’s a return of 43 percent already, and does not include the last-day rush of ballots posted or dropped off on election day.Absentee voters are a key group in the incorporation election because more than half of the 7,096 registered voters within the Silverdale boundaries use absentee ballots.The final count of absentee ballots will take place on Nov. 5, officials say.Citizens for Silverdale President Richard Sheak said he planned the incorporation Super Saturday door-belling campaign last week just to target the absentee voters. He hoped to garner support from at least 3,000 Silverdalians, which would virtually guarantee a “yes” vote.Sheak, and other incorporation advocates, cautiously read a recent Central Kitsap Reporter reader poll as good news. The poll, conducted by the Portland-based firm Pulse Research, indicated 46 percent of Silverdale residents support incorporation.Kitsap County Commissioner Tim Botkin, a long-time critic of the present incorporation proposal, said the numbers were not surprising.“I guess I’m not shocked. The things I’ve heard are that the ones who are interested are sure, and there aren’t that many who consistently say they will vote no,” Botkin said about the poll results.Botkin raised some questions about the validity of the poll. He said Pulse Research, the Portland-based firm that conducted the poll for the Reporter, called his home twice. Botkin lives outside of the incorporation area in Chico.Nonetheless, Botkin was mum on predictions for the incorporation vote outcome.“I won’t be surprised. That’s all I will say,” Botkin said.In the poll, only 16 percent of Silverdale residents said they definitely would not vote for incorporation. The other 38 percent said they did not know or had not decided.The large number of undecided voters mirrors the results of the last Central Kitsap Reporter poll on the topic. In 1997, the New Jersey-based firm American Opinion Research tallied the undecided contingent at 22 percent. At that point, the proponents and opponents were nearly split at 34 percent for and 33 percent against.The undecided respondents caused American Opinion Research to observe, “almost one in four responded ‘don’t know, need more information,’ indicating the need to educate the constituency about the options for future governance of the area.”"

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