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Absentee vote deadline nears

Almost 1,700 Lincoln County residents have voted absentee in theNov. 4 general election so far, and the last opportunity forremaining absentee voters to do so is Saturday.

Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins said the lastchance for absentee voters to come to her office and mark theirballots will be Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. Mail-out absenteeballots must be filled out and back in the circuit clerk’s office’spost office box by Monday at 5 p.m.

“Friday and Saturday are the last times to vote in person, andif you still haven’t mailed it in, you’re taking a big chance,”Watkins said. “Mailed absentee ballots must be mailed back – wecannot accept them over the counter.”

Although absentee ballots will continue to be mailed from thecircuit clerk’s office upon request, Watkins advised last-minuteabsentee voters to visit her office and vote in person, as thechances of successfully receiving, completing and returning anabsentee ballot by 5 p.m. Monday decrease with every passinghour.

Any absentee ballots received after the Monday deadline will bediscarded, Watkins said. The rejected ballots are not opened, butstamped and stored in a sealed condition for two years as proof ofrejection.

Over the past few weeks, most of the county’s absentee votershave been taking care of business. The absentee voter sign-in sheetin the circuit clerk’s office showed 1,694 names as of Fridaymorning, only 300 short of Watkins’ early prediction that 2,000county residents would vote absentee.

And with the office averaging 100 or more absentee voters perday, coupled with the human propensity to wait until the lastminute, the numbers could very well reach and exceed 2,000.

“We have had a steady stream of people absentee voting for twoweeks,” Watkins said. “This is the average turnout for apresidential election. But, we have more than 26,000 registeredvoters in the county, and I think we will have a lot more peoplevoting at the polls this year.”