An election to remember


The Mirror

While voters did something they haven't done in several years –– show up at the polls in tremendous numbers –– the mood was mixed among those interviewed about the moment.

Some voters were looking forward all day to marking their ballots, and others hadn't given it much thought. But just about everyone was glad to have the campaign season come to a close.

According to Secretary of State Sam Reed's elections office, more than 58 percent of King County's voters had cast their ballots as of Thursday. That percentage is expected to climb as absentee and mail-in ballots are counted.

Voter Don Schmeichel said he wasn't thrilled with either George W. Bush or John Kerry for president, but was glad the voting put an end to campaigning.

Leah Gillis was also glad to have the campaign end with the Tuesday vote. She brought her young daughter and a friend to the polling place to see the election process and complete a homework assignment. She planned to watch the results closely after the polls closed.

Turnout at polling places at Panther Lake Elementary and Sacajewa Middle School was high, according to poll workers.

There were 151 voters who came to the polling place during the primary election in September, said Walter Brooks, captain of the Panther Lake polling place. But the general election had a much higher number of voters coming to the school, he said.

There were more young people and several people who had never voted before, including a woman in her 60s, Brooks added.

Ben Robbins said he had been looking forward to the end of day so he could vote. An employee at Salty's restaurant on Redondo Beach, Robbins said he reminded each of his customers to vote. He voted for Kerry.

"This is the most important vote of my lifetime," he said.

He cast a provisional ballot because he moved here recently. Brooks helped him successfully fill out the form.

"I just don't want you to lose the right to vote," Brooks told Robbins.

Robbins' sister, Rachel Williams, joined him at the polling place after voting in her precinct an hour earlier. She also voted for Kerry and said she had been looking forward to casting her ballot.

Doug Bagnell said he would follow the results at his home after voting for Bush at Sacajewea.

While there was national concern that lawyers from both the Democratic and Republican parties would take the election to the courts, Bagnell said he wasn't too worried about that happening.

The next morning, Kerry conceded the election several hours after his running mate, John Edwards, told supporters in the wee hours of Wednesday they would count every ballot in Ohio.

Statewide, King County Councilman Rob McKenna declared himself the winner of the state attorney general race over Deborah Senn. McKenna, a Republican, will resign from the council and the King County Republicans will supply the council with three appointees names to choose between.

Who will become the next governor remained in question Thursday afternoon, with Democrat Christine Gregoire, the state attorney general, holding the lead by slight more than 14,000 votes over Republican candidate Dino Rossi. The winner will take over from Governor Gary Locke, who is stepping down after two terms.

For the local candidates, Tuesday night was the end of a campaign season that wasn't controversial but did take a toll on health, sleep and families. Supporters were waving signs on street corners in the city until the polls closed.

State Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-30th District, Position 1) said Tuesday night was a relief for him. As his supporters and those of fellow Democrat and state representative (Position 2) candidate Joe Henry filled tables at Jake's Ale, Miloscia, a mug of beer in his hand, said the race makes it difficult to work on legislation and derails the daily routine he knows the rest of the year.

The campaign "consumes your life until (election day), he said.

After the first returns, Miloscia was ahead of his Republican rival, Tony Moore. He stayed ahead and will keep his seat for another two years, thanks to about 56 percent of the voters choosing him.

Over at the Best Western Executel, Moore was still campaigning after the polls closed and the first round of results were announced. He was behind, but continued to comment that Miloscia hadn't accomplished anything during six years in office.

Moore acknowledged the race had been grueling and he looked forward to sleeping in a little before pulling campaign signs Wednesday, but Tuesday night was not the end for him.

"Really, the truth for me is today it would be a beginning, not an end," he said.

Win or lose, Moore said, he would be back the next day helping in the community.

As Republicans in the small banquet room at the motel watched Fox News on a television for national results and a video projection of local tallies, Carrie Bratlie was explaining to her son, Ian, and family friend Carolyn McGunagle why they were there: To see the electoral process at its conclusion. It was after 9 p.m., and the trays of snacks were mostly gone. Bratlie, a Moore supporter, talked about how they had put a Moore campaign sign in their yard and did some campaigning.

She took Ian and Carolyn to the polling place at Green Gables Elementary School to see the voting process. Carolyn, 12, said she was bored. Ian, 14, thought the whole event was interesting and wanted to stay and watch the results.

Back at the Democrats' party, Benito Enriquez, 22, and Robb Davies, 19, were enjoying their first time voting in a presidential election.

"I couldn't wait," said Davies, who registered to vote a few days after his 18th birthday.

Their mothers were celebrating.

For Christina Enriquez, sitting with her son after he had voted brought back memories of taking him to the polls when he was a child.

Jean Matthew said they were celebrating the election and their sons' voting.

"We were too nervous to sit at home and watch the TV," she said.

Henry arrived at the Democrats' event after 8:15 p.m., when the first results were known. He was behind Republican incumbent Skip Priest.

"It's in the hands of the voters," said Henry.

The voters would elect to send Priest back to Olympia with nearly 52 percent of the vote as of Thursday.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565,

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