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Demand for early ballots cannot be met (CA)
Times-Herald, Vallejo, October 28, 2008. By Tony Burchyns

Solano County election officials said they will be unable to meet the record demand for issuing early ballots through the mail to voters.

That means an unknown number of people likely between 500 and 1,000 won't be getting ballots sent to them despite making requests on their registration forms, Assistant Registrar of Voters Lindsey McWilliams said Monday.

"We were overwhelmed with the amount of voter registrations on Oct. 20, the final day to register," McWilliams said. "Over half wanted their ballot issued to them through the mail."

Today is the last day officials are permitted to mail ballots to voters before the Nov. 4 election. But officials said they won't finish processing new registration forms until at least Thursday.

That could mean that hundreds of voters expecting to find a ballot in the mail will instead find a postcard telling them where to vote on Election Day.

"We're going to disappoint several hundred voters," McWilliams said. "But we're working seven days a week getting this stuff keyed in."

Anyone registered to vote in Solano County still may pick up a ballot in person at the Registrar of Voters Office at 675 Texas St., second floor, in Fairfield. The ballot may be filled out and returned on the spot, mailed in by Nov. 4. or ped off at any county polling place on Election Day.

With many viewing the presidential contest between John McCain and Barack Obama as the most important in decades if not history and long lines expected on Election Day, more people then ever are voting early.

A steady line of voters asking for ballots passed through the registrar's office Monday morning.

Janene Whitesell, of Fairfield, was one of many who wanted to beat the crowds.

"I just didn't know if Election Day would be too busy," said Whitesell, a full-time instructor at Solano Community College, adding she proudly voted for Obama. "I did have time today, so I wanted to do it today."

"We just wanted to avoid the rush," her fiancÚ, Robert Payawal, said. "I anticipate this is going to be a very big election."

Officials are projecting an astounding 85 percent turnout. And for the first time ever, more people are expected to vote using early ballots rather than voting machines, McWilliams said.

More than 186,000 had registered to vote as of last Friday, McWilliams said. The number will likely swell to nearly 190,000, the county's biggest army of voters ever, he said.

Between 53 percent and 54 percent are expected to ask for early ballots, compared to about 40 percent last year.

A record 99,033 vote-by-mail ballots had been issued as of Monday morning, McWilliams said.



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