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High Turnout For Last-Minute Voter Registration

A ballot drop box in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Procrastinators. That’s how a lot people described themselves while waiting in line Monday for voter registration. It was the final deadline for Washington residents to register for the Nov. 6 election. Hopeful voters had to fill out the paperwork in person since the deadline had already passed to register by mail or online.

King County Elections spokeswoman Kim van Ekstrom estimated more than a thousand people registered to vote at their office in Renton. She said about 150 people were still waiting in line when the deadline hit at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Everyone in line at that point still got a chance to register.

KUOW talked to several people in line at a temporary registration office in Seattle Monday. Many were younger voters or new to the state, including Shanna Hill, Charlotte Heleniak and Catherine Webster. All three women say they’re eager to vote on Referendum 74 regarding same-sex marriage.

First-time US voter Tazar Ni Khalid, from Morocco, says he’s undecided on the presidential race and wants to study the candidates’ immigration policies. New Seattle resident Dan Green says he plans to complete and mail off his ballot the day it arrives, rather than procrastinate like he did with the voter registration.

According to van Ekstrom, more than 280,000 ballots have been returned so far in King County.  She says that’s at least 4,000 to 5,000 more than they’d projected to have at this point. To van Ekstrom, that suggests voter turnout could also end up higher than anticipated. Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts statewide voter turnout could reach 81 percent for Tuesday's election.

Year started with KUOW: 2006