School bond measure passes

Voters punch out their ballots on the special school bond election in their polling site at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Seaview Tuesday morning. DAMIAN MULINIX photo

UPDATE: Proposition No. 1 Ocean Beach Schools Capital Improvements General Obligation Bonds won 62-38 percent, 1,1778 to 1,087. The propositin needed 60 percent approved to pass and with 100 percent reporting, votes for approval were 1,778, or 62.06. Votes rejecting the measure were 1,087, or 37.94 percent.

SEAVIEW, SOUTH BEND - Theresa Potter ran the needle and thread through her patchwork pieces on what was the beginning of a new quilt. Next to her sat Phyliss Scheibner, reading a book about dogs, while just down the table was Pauline Reed, just sitting and thinking.

These ladies were playing the waiting game, a game they would play out all day Tuesday, waiting for the next person to walk through the door of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Seaview to claim their ballot and register a vote in the school bond special election.

By 10 a.m. they had received a total of 23 votes. People were slowly coming through, one every 10 to 15 minutes or so. Pretty slow going for these ladies who are on the job there for a 14-hour stretch - from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"We'll be here all day," said Potter.

The three women are Election Board workers. Potter is the inspector, tasked with picking up supplies, coordinating her judges, setting up the voting machines and managing the sign-in book. She also delivers ballots to the county auditor's office in South Bend after polls close. Reed and Scheibner are judges, a first time for Scheibner who was filling in this time around for another woman who is visiting South America on a year-long stint as a missionary.

By mid-morning the ladies said they really hadn't gotten any feeling from anybody as to which way the vote was going, but Reed said usually when the vote is predominantly "No," more people turn out.

"It's kind of hard to read these," she said. "When I worked at city council in Ilwaco, whenever we thought people would be against something we had a big crowd."

And she should know, Reed and Potter have been doing this for many years.

"I started way back when," said Potter, "before I had children."

Potter said she thought many on the local election board have the same amount of experience as her.

"I think that you'll find that most of your election board workers are older people and have worked the boards for a long time," she said. "They're kind of faithful - you can depend on them each time."

And the workers are not the only ones the election board depends on. There is also faith put in the old punch ballot style voting machines, much like those made famous in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. But these ladies are convinced there will be no hanging chads here.

"I test them at home," said Potter, "and when I come here I test them again to make sure that they punch out."

And no matter what kind of election it is, there is a lot of waiting. Potter said it tends to pick up around the time mail is delivered to the Post Offices because people will be driving around. She said it also tends to get busier after people get off work.

"With the amount of absentees [ballots], it's going to be very light on our side," said Potter.

They get no lunch break - in fact, they can't even walk outside their site. Reed said that in past years her husband has come with ice cream for the ladies in the afternoon - a treat they all look forward to.

A super-majority vote of over 60 percent approval is required to pass the school bond worth $23 million.

Modernizing and renovating improvements would take place at Long Beach, Ocean Park and Hilltop Elementary Schools, including the addition of safety devices such as fire suppression sprinkler systems and improved access to buildings for citizens with disabilities.

All the schools in the district, including Ilwaco High School, would also see a reconfiguration of the grades. With that change the elementary schools would house kindergarten through fifth-grades, Hilltop would become a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school and IHS a ninth- through twelfth-grade only high school.Absentee ballots By 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Pacific County Auditor Pat Gardner reported they had received 1,587 absentee ballots and 100 votes by mail. She specified anyone could request an absentee ballot, while vote by mail is only available to those living in an area without a polling site.

Gardner said they needed 1,458 votes in order to validate the election, a number they had covered simply by the absentees. She said her office would begin counting the absentee and mail votes at 8 p.m. that night and would most likely have all poll votes in hand and counted by 10:30 p.m. Gardner said that up to the minute results can be found at their web site: www.co.pacific.wa.us/elections/5_20election.htm

Gardner said that final election results will be posted on May 30.

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