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BEND, OR -- Ballots are due no later than 8 o’clock Tuesday night for Bend voters to decide whether the city will impose a 5-cent a gallon local gas tax to help pay for road repairs. Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says special elections typically don’t attract a high voter turnout, but this one has garnered a lot of attention. "We’ve had tons of calls, even before the ballots went out, from people who were interested – making sure they were registered to vote; we’ve had a lot of snowbirds, a lot of people out of town. There was just a huge volume of calls we received. There was just a lot of interest in this and turn out is going to be high."


She tells KBND News ballot measures that directly impact people’s pocketbook tend to get the highest voter turnout. "There’s some activity; there are still people who are holding those ballots that need to get those in by 8 o’clock. But, I think we’re doing quite well for a March election; higher than typical March elections."


Those opposed to the gas tax have complained about the expense of this election. Blankenship estimates this special election will cost the city $60,000 to $70,000, partly because they must mail and process about 50,000 ballots. "Equipment costs, extra personnel costs, the cost of mailings, the cost of ballots; a ballot is 20-cents a piece, and then you have all the envelopes that go with those. The city will get a bill. We have to have that to them by the 45th day after the election." If the vote is close enough to trigger a recount, that price tag would go up.


Blankenship says a glitch within the U.S. Postal Service sent some completed ballots back to voters. Equipment read both sides of the envelopes and failed to deliver them to the County Clerk's office. She says those ballots must be taken to an official drop site by 8 p.m. to be counted. 


Official Drop Sites in Bend:

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