PR: Pierce County poll sites open at lower cost

Tuesday, Aug. 17 is Primary Election Day, and voters face important choices in federal, state and county races. The Primary Election will determine the top two candidates to advance to the General Election.

In Pierce County, voters have the option to Vote-By-Mail or go to a polling place. Of the state’s 39 counties, Pierce County is the only one that offers polling place elections.

Fifty-six (56) polling places will be open for both the Primary and General Election this year. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

“I’m happy to report we have been able to reduce the cost of conducting polling place elections by 47 percent,” said Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson. “By returning our tried and true precinct tabulators to the polls, ballots can be counted at the polling place rather than transported to the Election Center for counting.”

For the last three years, Ranked Choice Voting prevented the use of precinct tabulators. Since voters repealed Ranked Choice Voting, Pierce County can return to counting ballots at each polling place. This saves considerable time, labor and expense. Pierce County has also saved money with more efficient printing of polling-place materials.

Pierce County has approximately 404,987 active registered voters. Approximately 82 percent use a Vote-By-Mail ballot. The remaining 18 percent of voters have registered to vote at a polling place.

The Elections Division estimates that 37 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots in the Primary. According to the estimates, 44 percent of the Vote-By-Mail voters will return a ballot, and 6 percent of poll voters will participate on Election Day.

If you would like to Vote-By-Mail for the Primary Election, it is not too late. Call the Elections Division at 253-798-VOTE (8683) and a ballot will be mailed to you.

Poll voters continue to dwindle as more voters opt for Vote-By-Mail. As poll voters decrease, the cost per ballot cast is correspondingly more expensive. During the February 2010 Election, the cost per poll ballot cast was $12.76. In comparison, the cost per Vote-By-Mail ballot cast was $3.76.

“We want to increase the polling place participation rate to bring the unit cost down,” Anderson said. “It’s frustrating to provide a unique and excellent service, only to see it underutilized.”

The Pierce County Auditor’s Office is responsible for elections, licensing services, a variety of public records and animal control services. More information is available at www.piercecountywa.org/auditor.