Pierce County already experiencing high level of voter turnout

VIDEO: Pierce County gearing up for possible record voter turnout

Ballots are being gathered and boxed up, then sorted and prepared for scanning at Pierce County’s election office in Tacoma. It's always a busy time during elections, but this one is a lot busier than expected.

Days after ballots were mailed to voters, they started coming back by the tens of thousands. In fact, the post office warned election officials they'd need a big truck to carry them all. “And they said don’t bring the van, bring your box cargo truck. We have 18,000 ballots waiting for you this morning,” said Pierce County auditor Julie Anderson.

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A lot of voters skip midterm elections, bringing the turnout percentages way down compared to a presidential election year. As of Wednesday, Pierce County's turnout is near 9 percent, on pace with early returns for the 2012 presidential election that saw a historic number of people cast votes in the county. Anderson said she expected a higher-than-average turnout for this midterm, but not this high. “No,” she said. “This has been a pleasant surprise, and we’re really excited.”

Voters dropping off their ballots at the auditor's office said they agree people seem much more motivated during this midterm.

“I think so,” said Alexis Macdonald. “Because there’s lots of emotions out there. A lot of strong feelings.”  One woman who identified herself only as Diane agreed. “We have a lot of issues that really affect the common person on the ballot, so I wanted to make sure my voice was heard.”