Absentee ballots coming in daily

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By MIKE MORRIS

Two temporary workers hired by Calaveras County's Elections Department to help with Tuesday's recall election spent yesterday checking addresses on hundreds of absentee ballots.

The ballots were then forwarded to county election officials for signature verification.

That more than half the absentee ballots mailed out last month have been returned, said Calaveras County Elections Coordinator Debbie Smith, indicates an impressive turnout is likely for next week's special election.

"There seems to be a lot of interest," she said.

Of the 25,154 registered voters in Calaveras County, 8,788 are voting by absentee ballot. As of yesterday afternoon, 4,923 of them 56 percent had sent in their ballots.

But that number increases daily.

Absentee ballots will be accepted until 8 p.m. Tuesday, election night.

The county's Elections Department began mailing the ballots Sept. 8.

"The last couple of weeks they really started coming back," Smith said.

Vicky Oneto was at the department's San Andreas office yesterday to drop off a ballot marked by her mother-in-law, who is voting absentee because she is legally blind and can't make it to her polling place.

Oneto filled out a ballot for herself because she'll be scuba diving in Los Angeles come Tuesday.

While Oneto said she's not Gov. Gray Davis' biggest fan, she said the state is in too much debt to pay for a special election.

"(The recall is) the stupidest waste of money I've ever heard of," the 61-year-old Angels Camp resident said.

Oneto is voting "no" on the recall.

"I think there's a recall every four years," she said. "It's called an election."

In June, Calaveras County officials budgeted $15,400 to hire temporary help for the March presidential primary and a local election in November.

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