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Overseas absentee ballots are in the mail, Auditor promises

The Kitsap County Auditor’s Office mailed approximately 1,500 completed final ballots to overseas voters on Friday, accomplishing what originally seemed an impossible deadline.

All remaining absentee ballots are due to be mailed out today. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day (Nov. 2) but can arrive at the Kitsap County Courthouse as late as Nov. 17.

The early mailing of overseas ballots, sent primarily to the military and performed concurrently with all Washington counties, was complicated by two occurrences. First, the U.S. Department of Justice informed the state its schedule to mail out absentee ballots today was not soon enough and threatened a lawsuit unless it created an accelerated schedule. Then, a commanding officer on the USS Abraham Lincoln, now docked in Everett, erroneously told his sailors that ballots would not count in the election.

This situation was corrected, according to County Auditor Karen Flynn, when the officer was ordered to retract the comment.

At issue is a federal law stating that overseas citizens are entitled to receive absentee ballots 30 days prior to an election. Washington’s late primary made this difficult if not impossible, according to Flynn.

After what Flynn called “an extraordinary effort,” all overseas ballots went out 25 days prior to the election.

The auditors rejected a plan to send out “placeholder” ballots on Friday and regular ballots on Tuesday, due to the Oct. 11 Columbus Day mail holiday.

“We wouldn’t have gained that much time,” she said.

Flynn also said a few Kitsap County citizens received warning letters about voter fraud. These infractions included attempting to vote twice or forging the name on the signature card.

“We compare every signature,” Flynn said, adding that some people who vote twice aren’t malicious or corrupt, only absent-minded citizens who forgot they already voted by mail.

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