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High election turnout expected

With hotly debated measures, money issues and contested races for commissioner and sheriff, Jackson County voters closed the week with 30.2 percent of ballots turned in.

Almost half of ballots usually get turned in the final weekend and the last two days of voting on Monday and Tuesday, meaning that percentage could double by the deadline at 8 p.m. Tuesday, said Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker.

"We could have a 60 percent turnout, which, for a primary, in a non-presidential year, is a lot," said Walker.

The big draws on the ballot seem to be a proposed ban on growing genetically modified organisms and money issues that would create a tax base of up to 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation for libraries and up to 5 cents per $1,000 for agricultural extension services, said Walker.

Both the library and extension service have seen their budgets cut by Jackson County. Without local support, the extension service will lose state and federal funding and the libraries are faced with closure.

The hotly contested, three-way race for sheriff is drawing a lot of voters, Walker said, with incumbent Mike Winters facing challenges from Bob Sergi, a sheriff's lieutenant, and Corey Falls, deputy chief at the Ashland Police Department. There are also two contested races in the GOP primary for seats on the county Board of Commissioners.

So far, Democrats are outvoting Republicans, 32.1 percent (of registered voters of that party) to 26.3 percent. Non-affiliated voters are turning out at 20.2 percent, while all other parties are 23.1 percent.

"There's a lot of passion on either side of the ballot measures that have a money impact and the GMO measure has stirred a lot of feeling," she said.

Walker said voters who have yet to mail their ballot should take it to a ballot box instead, as there's no guarantee at this late date that ballots will arrive in time. Drop boxes are available outside the libraries of Ashland, Eagle Point, Central Point and Rogue River and the county Elections Office at 1101 W. Main St., Medford.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.