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Islanders in 12 precincts must now vote by mail

"People living in 12 Island County precincts won't be going to their polling places on election day any more.The Island County Auditor's Office last week mailed a notice to registered voters living in those precincts that beginning with this year's Sept. 18 primary election they will be voting exclusively by mail.Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair said Thursday that the precincts chosen for mail-only ballots have 200 or fewer active registered voters, described as people who actually go to the polls to vote. In Island County, about half the voters routinely vote by absentee ballot, Sinclair said. The figure in the 2000 election was 50.5 percent.Sinclair said the move is a cost-cutting measure. The state law that allows the action has been on the books for several years, she said, estimating her cost savings at $2,000 each election.The savings come from not needing to hire three poll workers for each precinct, and not having to rent the polling places.The precincts affected are: Langley 1, Clinton, Double Bluff, Freeland, Possession, Penn Cove, Scenic Heights, and Oak Harbor 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6.Voters in all other precincts will still have the option of requesting an absentee ballot or going to the polls.Sinclair expressed regret that voters in the 12 precincts no longer will be able to use a voting booth in their local polling place. I've tried to put it off, but I'm trying to squeeze more out of less, she said. I like that community feeling, but I have to face the reality that it's costing me more to do that. "

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