Did you receive two ballots? Don’t worry, we’ll only count one.

In every election – special, primary, or general – approximately 2% of King County voters receive a second ballot. That second ballot is typically triggered by an update in one’s voter registration record – through King County Elections or the Department of Licensing – such as an address change, name change, or even just updating their phone number. Updates made after the ballots have gone to print are more likely to trigger this duplication and with same-day registration and the deadline for updates made online moved back, it is likely that more voters will be issued second ballots.

We always hear concern from voters – what happens if I get two ballots? Am I in trouble? Will both be counted?

The short answer is no – you are not in trouble and your two ballots will not be counted, just the first one returned.

For every registered voter, they have a voter record and only one ballot can be counted for that record. It is extremely rare that a voter tries to return two ballots. Every ballot includes the declaration that the voter is not attempting to vote twice and that an attempt to vote twice could result in prosecution and is punishable with up to 5 years in jail, up to a $10,000 fine, or both. What we see here in King County is that our voters are overwhelmingly honest, well-intentioned people who want to follow the rules and want to make sure their vote gets counted.

While our staff and the voter registration database stop many more second ballots from going out the door, inevitably a few make it through. This is true in every county. As the county with nearly one-third of the entire state’s registered voters and the center of the state’s media market, second ballots certainly draw more attention here in King County. 

We have several layers of checks and balances in our ballot processing system to catch any second ballots that come to ensure that one person, one vote is upheld – no matter how many ballots a voter tries to return.

Voter Education Fund Invests Nearly $1 Million in Diverse Communities

King County Elections and Seattle Foundation are excited to announce the recipients of our next Voter Education Fund! A total of 39 community-based organizations are being funded $950,000 to provide nonpartisan voter outreach in historically underrepresented communities.

Instead of funding organizations on an annual basis, this cycle will award two-year grants. We want to ensure organizations have the resources they need to do significant voter engagement in what promises to be an exciting local election year and through the 2020 election.

Organizations are being funded at two levels: up to $40,000 to develop a two-year campaign to engage voters or potential voters, or up to $15,000 to provide a series of smaller activities through 2019 and 2020.

Grantees serve a wide array of communities, including communities of color, limited-English speaking residents, low-income youth, veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and people who have been convicted of a felony. This cycle places an increased emphasis on voter outreach to people with disabilities, African American and Native American voters, and historically marginalized residents in South King County.

Organizations receiving funding will attend an orientation and training workshop at King County Elections during the week of June 3, 2019.

The full list of 2019 grantees is:

  • 21 Progress
  • APACEvotes
  • Asian Counseling and Referral Service
  • Being Empowered Thru Supportive Transitions
  • Byrd Barr Place
  • Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees and Communities of Color (CIRCC)
  • Disability Rights Washington
  • El Centro de la Raza
  • Entre Hermanos
  • Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle
  • Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center
  • India Association of Western Washington
  • Indigenous Showcase
  • Ingersoll Gender Center
  • Institute for Community Leadership
  • InterIm CDA
  • International Community Health Services
  • Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC)
  • Korean American Coalition—WA
  • Latino Community Fund
  • Living Well Kent
  • Mother Africa
  • Mujer al Volante
  • Muslim Community & Neighborhood Association
  • Na’ah Illahee Fund
  • NAMI Eastside
  • Para Los Niños
  • Progress Pushers
  • Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA)
  • Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness
  • SOAR
  • Tenants Union of Washington State
  • The Vera Project
  • The Washington Bus Education Fund
  • U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle
  • Villa Comunitaria
  • Washington Community Action Network Education & Research Fund
  • West Hill Community Association

Running for Office: Candidate Filing Fee

Thinking about running for office? We’re expecting more than 700 people to file for office during candidate filing week, May 13 – 17. If you’re planning to run now or in the future, remember that you’ll need to pay a filing fee. This fee is equal to 1% of the office’s annual salary at the time of filing. You can view the filing fees for all 337 positions up for election on our website. Unfortunately, filing fees are not refundable. So if a candidate withdraws, they don’t get their money back. And if they withdraw and re-file for a different position, they’ll be required to pay a second filing fee for the new position.

Read more

Applications now open for 2019-2020 Voter Education Fund

We’re now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 Voter Education Fund! King County Elections and Seattle Foundation are awarding $950,000 in grants to increase voter engagement in underserved communities over the next two years.

2018 Voter Education Fund partners.


Continue reading

Here’s how to Run for Office in King County


Running for office can be a daunting, even intimidating process. There are so many questions a first-time candidate has to think about: What’s a filing fee? How long can I have campaign signs up? What are the public disclosure requirements? Fortunately, we make it easy to run for office in King County. First, everything you need to know is on our Running for Office page online. Second, you can actually file your candidacy online and avoid a trip to our office.

Continue reading

February 2019 Special Election: Frequently asked questions and answers


How do I replace my ballot or ballot envelope?

Visit our website to get a replacement ballot or envelope.

How do I find a ballot drop box?

Visit our website to find a drop box near you.

Do I need a stamp to return my ballot?

No, you no longer need a stamp to mail your ballot in King County. Continue reading

2019 Legislative Priorities

The 2019 Washington State legislative session opened this week, and we wanted to share our priorities for this session. As always, our goal is to make voting as accessible and barrier-free as possible. Here’s a look at what Director Julie Wise will be supporting in Olympia over the next three months:

State pays its fair share.

Every other jurisdiction pays their share of election costs. Currently the state only pays for election costs in odd numbered years, the opposite of when there are state races on the ballot. For King County alone, the average unfunded state election cost in these years is about $4 million. New mandates, like additional drop boxes and same day registration have only exacerbated this issue. It’s past time for the state to pay its fair share.

Signature alternatives.

With more and more digital transactions, we are seeing society shift away from the signature as a primary tool for authentication. We need new options for verifying an individual voted their correct ballot. Washington State should get ahead of this issue and be a leader in exploring signature alternatives. This could include piloting options for voters with disabilities and overseas/service voters, both communities significantly impacted by the current signature requirement.

Washington State Legislature
(Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP)

Continue reading

General Election 2018: Statewide ballot measures

The November midterm election had record voter turnout in King County with 76 percent of registered voters casting a ballot. While there were many factors that drove turnout,  voters were also motivated by the four statewide measures on this year’s ballot. Millions of dollars poured into the campaigns for and against measures that would govern pollution, taxes on groceries (mainly sugary drinks), gun ownership, and police training concerning the use of deadly force. Voters were inundated with television commercials, digital ads, and mailers urging them to either approve or reject a given measure.

Statewide, voters approved all of the measures except for Initiative Measure No. 1631 concerning a fee on carbon emissions. Initiative No. 1634, which prohibits a tax on essential groceries, was the only measure rejected by King County voters. Let’s take a look at how the County’s six most-populated cities voted on each measure. Continue reading

How social media is used to reach young voters

The year was 2000 and it was the first time I was eligible to vote in a presidential election. Since I lived on a college campus four hours away from home, I requested and filled out an absentee ballot. But then I procrastinated and forgot to mail it in. Oops! I remember one particular friend being appalled. We live in a swing state, he lamented. How could you forget to mail your ballot?

Continue reading

General Election 2018: Ballot drop boxes with the most returns

Ballot drop boxes continue to be a convenient option for King County voters. About 390,000 ballots were returned through drop boxes during the 2018 General Election. The Ballard Branch Library location was the most popular, with 19,034 ballots returned there.

Top Ten Returns

Continue reading