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Polling stations a thing of the past in Washington St.

BLAINE, WA (NEWS1130) – You’ve heard the speeches and seen the commercials, now it’s time for Americans to choose their next president — Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

There’s a new wrinkle to the voting system in Washington State as polling stations are now a thing of the past. This election is being done entirely by mail.

“Basically everybody either has to put their ballot in the mail with proper postage or drop it in a designated drop box location,” explains Ryan Harris with KOMO News in Seattle. “Only Pierce County, which is where Tacoma is, still has a few places where you can go to vote.”

He says the Secretary of State is predicting in the high eighties for voter turnout.

“That’s because we have a presidential election and we are electing a new governor. Our current governor, Christine Gregoire, is not seeking a third term and it’s a very hotly contested race,” Harris notes. “Plus we have a couple of hot bed measures on the ballot — one of them being legalizing same-sex marriage and the other legalizing recreational marijuana use.”

With this new system, Harris says there is some concern about voter fraud.

“We actually had an issue here in the last week where one of the county Republican parties was offering to pick up your ballot and make sure that it gets delivered to the drop boxes or to the county election office. Of course, the state Democratic party argued that with paid canvassers doing that job, the process is ripe for voter fraud.”

“I believe the logic is that because the post office is supposed to be a trusted source, that voter fraud is minimal or negligible,” Harris adds.

Polling shows Obama has slight lead

Mario Canseco with Angus Reid says most polls suggest Obama has a slight edge. But he says the winner will be decided by a few key states.

“Florida, Ohio, to a lesser extent Wisconsin — states that have many electoral votes are going to be key if Mitt Romney tries to wrestle this victory away from Obama,” Canseco explains. “Right now we see Obama holding a slight edge in Ohio, doing well in Wisconsin, in Michigan, and in the state of Pennsylvania.”

He says women may end up deciding this election.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about Romeny’s comment of ‘binders full of women’ in the debate and how that might actually come back to haunt him. We see that Obama is connecting very well with women in the states that are key to this exercise.”

Canseco says Obama has picked up a nice little boost because of the way he’s responded to the Hurricane Sandy disaster.