All-mail ballot will probably mean higher voter participation

"Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn’s plan to hold a second Silverdale incorporation election received a formal, judicial stamp of approval after a hearing Monday.The all-mail election now is officially set for Feb. 1 after Pierce County Superior Court Judge Terry Sebring approved Flynn’s plan to rectify some ballot irregularities from the Nov. 2 incorporation election. Both supporters and opponents of incorporation agreed that re-running the election is the most equitable solution, Flynn said.The controversy arose when Flynn’s office discovered that some people who live outside the proposed city boundaries were allowed to vote on cityhood. Meanwhile, some people who live inside the proposed boundaries received ballots that did not include the incorporation question. Although it is difficult to determine what impact the all-absentee ballot might have on the election, representatives of both sides of the cityhood debate predicted more ballots would be returned in city election, part II.Incorporation backer Bert Cole, who leads the Silverdale 2000 Campaign, worked on another local all-mail ballot campaign – the 1997 Central Kitsap School District levy.The levy failed in its first attempt, when voting took place at the polls and through the mail. But it passed on its second attempt, when all votes passed through the mail.“I guess (the new vote) will reflect a broader-based, more accurate response of what the community really thinks. Whether that’s going to be more balanced toward incorporation or against it, I don’t know,” Cole said.Ron Templeton, a member of the anti-incorporation group Save Our Silverdale, also said the all-mail balloting probably would lead to greater participation. “I think that’s a good thing,” Templeton said. “But as far as which side that’s going to help, I think that’s a really tough one to predict.”Templeton, a Silverdale attorney, said he would continue to make himself available to debate the matter at forums. But, he added, Save Our Silverdale probably won’t jump through legal hoops like filing with the state Public Disclosure Commission, which would allow it to raise funds and run a formal campaign.Cole said his group, which is comprised primarily of businesspeople who reside outside the incorporation boundaries, still was debating what role it would play in the Feb. 1 election. He said the fact that several people already have declared their candidacy for city council might change the tenor of the campaign.“Now that we’ve had people who have declared their candidacy for city council, we’re mixing the incorporation issue with city council elections,” Cole said. “My group was formed specifically to deal with incorporation, so we’re struggling to figure out where we’re going to fall into this election.”Citizens for Silverdale, however, hasn’t hesitated. That group, which is made up of Silverdale residents who support incorporation, is planning on cranking up its campaign.Citizens for Silverdale President Richard Sheak said the group has formed “teams” for each precinct in the city. They will doorbell on three weekends prior to the election.They also are planning on a mailing campaign, posting signs and organizing forums, Sheak said.“A big emphasis is going to be on the fact that local control will give us lower taxes and better representation,” Sheak said. “And also, we’re going to emphasize that in the post-695 era, we’re not going to have any taxes that aren’t approved by the citizens.”Flynn was unable to determine how many ballots will be mailed, because Silverdale residents still have time to register to vote in the Feb. 1 election.Silverdale residents who wish to register to vote via mail and be eligible for the Feb. 1 election have until the end of December (30 days prior to the election date) to do so. Any Silverdale resident who registers to vote in person at the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office by Jan. 18 (15 days prior to the election) will eligible to vote in the city election."

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