By Pat Jenkins
The Dispatch
Of the nearly 370,000 ballots cast by Pierce County voters in last month's general election, 5,000-plus were rejected because of apparent errors in how they were turned in.
That and other statistical findings were included in the report by the canvassing board that certified the results of the county's final and by far biggest election in 2016.
Seventy-four percent of the 490,666 registered voters in Pierce County cast ballots, but of the 369,564 who did, 5,279 weren't included in the final results. Questionable voter signatures was the main reason ballots were rejected. In 3,143 cases, signatures on the ballot envelopes didn't match the ones on file with election officials. About a thousand others were signed by someone other than the registered voter.
Technical problems with the way ballots returned accounted for the other disqualifications.
Some other election statistics:
• Of the 30 official dropboxes scattered around the county for ballots to be deposited, two of the most heavily used were in south Pierce County. The one at the South Hill branch of the Pierce County Library System received 20,979 ballots, second only to the 24,989 deposited outside the county elections office in Tacoma. The sixth-highest total (11,745) was at the Parkland-Spanaway library branch.
• 221,933 of the total ballots cast were done so via dropboxes. Of those, 76,320 were deposited on Nov. 8, the final day of voting, proving that lots of voters wait to the last minute.
• 489 people who mailed their ballots in didn't do it in time. Theirs were postmarked too late.
As for the candidates who came out on top, the results didn’t change between early returns after the close of voting and the final certification.
In higher-profile races involving offices specific to south Pierce County, Republican incumbents won in races for the Legislature (Sen. Randi Becker and Reps. J.T. Wilcox and Andrew Barkis) and Pierce County Council (Jim McCune). In addition, Bruce Dammeier, a state senator from Puyallup, became the first non-Tacoma resident to be elected county executive. He also is only the second Republican to win that office.