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Election Day looms as ballots trickle in

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Ballots for Tuesday's special election have to be dropped off at one of nearly two dozen places around Multnomah County. Tuesday's ballot includes several school board races and the Portland water fluoridation issue.It's election day. If you haven't mailed your ballot, then you'll have to drop it at one of a couple dozen places around Multnomah County.

You can drop your ballot at the county Elections Office, 1040 S.E. Morrison St., or at:

• A-Boy Supply - 7365 S.W. Barbur Blvd.

• Goodwill Store - 3134 N. Lombard St.

• Gresham Library - 385 N.W. Miller Ave., Gresham

• McDonald's Restaurant - 2010 N.E. Cesar Chavez Blvd., (drop box located on west side of Northeast 40th Avenue between Tillamook and Hancock and near the Hollywood Library)

• Midland Library - 805 S.E. 122nd Ave.

• Pioneer Courthouse Square - 700 block of Southwest Broadway (next to Starbucks and across from Nordstrom)

And, you can drop your ballots at neighborhood libraries:

• Albina - 3605 N.E. 15th Ave.

• Belmont - 1038 S.E. César E. Chávez Blvd.

• Capitol Hill - 10723 S.W. Capitol Highway

• Central Library - 801 S.W. 10th Ave.

• Fairview-Columbia - 1520 N.E. Village St. Fairview

• Gregory Heights - 7921 N.E. Sandy Blvd.

• Holgate - 7905 S.E. Holgate Blvd.

• Kenton - 8226 N. Denver Ave.

• North Portland - 512 N. Killingsworth St.

• Northwest - 2300 N.W. Thurman St.

• Rockwood - 17917 S.E. Stark St.

• St. Johns - 7510 N. Charleston Ave.

• Sellwood-Moreland - 7860 S.E. 13th Ave.

• Troutdale - 2451 S.W. Cherry Park Road, Troutdale

• Woodstock - 6008 S.E. 49th Ave.

So far, about 22 percent of county voters have returned their ballots.

That's well above the 11 percent that had voted at this point in the May 19, 2009, special election. Ultimately, only about 15 percent of county voters took part in that election.

But the response is only slightly better than the 20 percent that had voted at this point in the May 17, 2011, special election. Ultimately, a little more than 36 percent of county voters retuned ballots in that election.

The participating rate in Tuesday's special election is surprisingly low, considering that neither of the previous two May elections had any controversial measures on the ballot. In contrast, an emotion and expensive battle is being waged over the measure to fluoridate Portland's water.

Both sides claim to be most concerned about the health of the city's children, and are accusing the other side of misrepresenting the facts. They are both running TV and radio spots, and paying for direct mail pieces.

The two campaigns have so far raised more than $1.1 million in cash and in-kind contributions. The committee in support of Ballot Measure 26-151 reports more than $845,000 in donations. The committee opposing fluoridation has raised more than $269,000.

Two other measures on Portland ballots are also drawing significant support. The committee in favor of Measure 26-151, which extends the Portland Children's Levy, reports raising more than $381,000. The committee in favor of Measure 26-152, to help maintain Metro's open spaces, has raised more than $268,000.

The rate of returning ballots should increase steadily during the next week. Both sides in the fluoridation fight also have volunteers going door to door to identify supporters and make sure they vote.