By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
May 13, 2006
Hood River County’s mail ballot count is climbing and could reach 50 percent — or even higher — by Tuesday’s primary election night.
As of press time on Friday, 27.5 percent of the ballots had been returned by the county’s 10,881 voters. Sandra Berry, director of elections, made a prediction for the final tally after reviewing numbers from the last non-presidential election. In 2002, Berry said the return rate was running 4 to 5 percent lower than the current total. She said 47 percent of voters weighed in that year, so she expects that count to be exceeded in the 2006 primary.
“I think the return rate is really pretty good,” said Berry.
“A lot of the time, it seems like we have a huge number of returns the last two to three days. I think that’s because people hear about the different races and issues in the news and then realize that the deadline is coming up.”
Berry believes the contested Hood River County Commission Chair race will factor largely into a higher-than-average voter turnout.
If one of the three candidates scores 50 percent of the vote plus one, that individual will have his name as the sole listing on the Nov. 7 election ballot. Listed as candidates on the May 16 ballot are District 2 Commissioner Maui Meyer and Hood River resident Paul Nevin. Not listed but running a write-in campaign is Parkdale orchardist Ron Rivers.
Berry said ballots should no longer be mailed since postmarks do not count. Voters can hand-deliver ballots until 8 p.m. on Tuesday to the county administration building, 601 State Street.
A drop box near the front door allows for added convenience. Ballots can also be left at Cascade Locks City Hall, 140 WaNaPa St.