Meet our translators: Signe Chan

We’re highlighting the great work our translators do helping make our elections and services accessible to every member of the community. Here we sit down for a brief Q&A with Signe Chan, our Chinese language translator.

SigneWhat is your background and what brought you to working in local government at King County?

My family immigrated to the United States when I was a teenager. Often times I have to interpret for my parents and elderly friends who speak limited English.

Helping people is one of my specialties; I started helping others when I was in grade school by tutoring my neighbor’s kid who was in kindergarten. I taught “English as a Second Language” and “Become a citizen” classes as a volunteer. I also worked as a Chinese translator and secretary in an over 500 member nonprofit organization.

I also attended several naturalization examinations as an interpreter. I was excited and encourage to help people become citizens of the United States, to enjoy the freedom and benefits that this country provides for ALL Americans. I shared their joy when they passed the examination.

Voting is not only a privilege and responsibility for a citizen, but it also helps shape and define our country, our state and our counties. When I was asked to work as a Chinese translator in 2010, I gladly accepted the offer. Continue reading

Meet our translators: Juan Vazquez, Spanish

We’re highlighting the great work our translators do helping make our elections and services accessible to every member of the community. Here we sit down for a brief Q&A with Juan Vazquez, our Spanish language translator.

What brings you to working in local government at King County?

I was born in Mexico, but immigrated to the United States when I was thirteen. I attended Seattle University for my Bachelor of Arts, then completed my Master of Arts at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA. Afterwards I went on to work for the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer serving in Cape Verde and Brazil.

I enjoyed living overseas and working for the federal government, but I wanted to come back home to make a difference in my community so I decided to join King County Elections. I want to be part of an organization that strives to provide all citizens with the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. Continue reading

Thousands of King County citizens register to vote on National Voter Registration Day

More than 4,000 King County citizens registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a number almost 10 times the daily average! A total 3,454 people registered online when NVRD kicked off on September 25. Another 574 people mailed in paper registration forms, but we also saw a second surge of 837 forms delivered on October 1.

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September 25 is National Voter Registration Day

Today is National Voter Registration Day! NVRD is a non-partisan, unofficial national holiday, on which thousands of community groups and volunteers across the political spectrum register people to vote. It’s designed to create an annual moment when the entire nation focuses on helping citizens to exercise their most basic right—the right to vote.

Voter Registration at Goodwill Job Training & Education Center
King County Elections staff registering voters at the Goodwill Job Training & Education Center in Seattle.

So, what can you do? First, you can make sure your registration information is up-to-date. Next, you can encourage family, friends, neighbors – everyone! – to register to vote.

Countdown300x300-public-2018-red-todayJoin us as we register voters from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. today at the Goodwill Job Training & Education Center, 700 Dearborn Place S, Seattle, 98144.

Of course we are focused on voter registration all year long, but it’s great to have a day when everyone spends a few minutes thinking about it and spreading the word. Happy National Voter Registration Day!

2018 Primary Election: Voter turnout exceeds projections as prepaid postage launches countywide

Voter turnout exceeded our projections during the August 2018 Primary Election, which marked the first time voters did not need a stamp to mail in their ballots. King County Elections projected a 40 percent turnout rate, based on historical data and slightly adjusted to account for potential voter behavior changes due to prepaid postage. Actual turnout was 43.4 percent, the highest rate of voter participation since the 2004 primary election!

Prepaid Graph Turnout

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Spotlight on Voter Education Fund recipient: Korean American Coalition – Washington, KAC-WA

In a series over the next few weeks, we’re featuring a few of the recipients of our Voter Education Fund who make a difference in our communities.

Taking a holistic approach to voter education is a great way to empower voters within a specific community. The Korean American Coalition – Washington (KAC-WA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to strengthen the Korean American community not just through civic education and participation, but also through leadership development, community advocacy and networking.

“Korean-Americans need to have their voices elevated, and also need to join in solidarity with other people-of-color groups on policies that impact our communities,” said Yunee Ham, Executive Board Secretary and Director of Voter Registration for KAC-WA.

Pictured: KAC-WA works with the community to educate and empower Korean-American voters.

Yunee explains how KAC-WA focuses on Korean Americans in Washington State, working to increase community access and exposure to public policy on the local and federal level.

“One of our main goals is to strengthen and empower the Korean-American community and to enhance its profile and influence through civic education and participation,” she said. “We believe that civic engagement is a crucial part of voicing our opinions.”

A participant in the Voter Education Fund since 2016, KAC-WA believes that civic education and participation is important to the Korean-American community. It is the organization’s mission to make civic participation more approachable and create opportunities for the community to participate in voicing their opinions.

“Voter education is an important way to demonstrate the power of people and ensure that elected officials are held accountable to their constituents,” said Yunee.

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And the winner is…. King County Elections!

The Election Center announced today that King County Elections won its Democracy Award for the department’s 2017 media campaign, “Why Vote.” The campaign featured two powerful videos, the “Multiplier Effect,” an animated spot designed to illustrate the importance of voting, and “The Struggle,” a more somber depiction of the hard fought battle for voting rights in this country. They aired on a variety of digital platforms.

“We wanted to send the message that your vote matters and you shouldn’t take it for granted,” said Director of Elections, Julie Wise. “And with all the noise out there right now, we knew we needed to do something fresh and even a little provocative.”

King County Elections partnered with Seattle-based public affairs agency Mammoth on the campaign, which ran on network and cable TV, YouTube, connected TV, and social media platforms. It also aired in movie theatres across the region.

The Election Center is the preeminent organization for training and certification of election and voter registration administrators. Awards were announced at the annual conference in New Orleans, which included hundreds of election officials from across the country.

Read more in the official press release. View photos from today’s awards ceremony below.

Spotlight on Voter Education Fund recipient: Being Empowered thru Supportive Transitions, BEST

In a series over the next few weeks, we’re featuring a few of the recipients of our Voter Education Fund who make a difference in our communities.

Voter education can take on many different forms, helping meet people’s needs through creative and meaningful ways. For Being Empowered thru Supportive Transitions (BEST), this means providing services and education to formerly incarcerated people that assist in their reentry efforts and help them understand their restored voting rights.

“We support former incarcerated persons with mentoring services, guiding them thru the complex systems of society to help them overcome some of the barriers and impacts of collateral consequences,” says Reverend Jimmie James, Executive Director of BEST.

Pictured: BEST volunteers share voting information at a local community event.

Rev. Jimmie shares that reintegration efforts to welcome formerly incarcerated people back into their communities as valued members sets them up for success, and that voter education is essential to help them feel empowered to create societal change.

“This work is important for us to do because we have seen people affected by the criminal justice system fail to be successful in their reentry efforts,” he said. “Voter education is one of the most important ways this community can have a direct impact on their lives and become participants in the change they need and desire.”

A first time participant in the Voter Education Fund (VEF), Rev. Jimmie had worked with other agencies involved in VEF and knew that BEST had to get involved to help this community make an impact.

“It is a first step towards helping people returning from incarceration realize they are part of the community though voter participation and can make change,” he said.

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Recount refresh

Last week’s election had a few close races, and while currently none are expected to trigger a recount, we thought it would be helpful to share how a recount works.

It’s important to know that there are two different types of recounts, machine and manual, and that there are different thresholds for each, as well as for the type of race. There are also no mandatory recounts for state advisory votes or local measures.

Mandatory Machine Recount – A machine recount is when in all ballots for that race are re-scanned and re-tabulated electronically. For all races and statewide measures a recount is triggered if the gap is fewer than 2,000 votes and also less than .5% (.005) of the total overall votes cast for both candidates.

Mandatory Manual Recount – A manual recount is when all ballots for that race are counted by hand. For statewide races and measures a recount is triggered if the gap is fewer than 1,000 votes and also less than .25% (.0025) of the total overall votes cast for both candidates. For other races a recount is triggered if the gap is fewer than 150 votes and also less than .25% (.0025) of the total overall votes cast for both candidates.

Occasionally, someone may request a recount. This situation requires an application for a requested recount which must be filed within two business days after the County Canvassing Board or Secretary of State has declared the official results of the primary or election for which the recount is requested. The application must specify the race or state measure to be recounted.

Visit our Elections website or the Secretary of State’s website for more information about the recount process. View our previous blog post about recounts here.

We’ve added more drop boxes!

We are excited to share that we have opened 5 new drop boxes in these last few months in time for the August 7 Primary Election!

Communities excited to receive a drop box in their location include:

  • Auburn: Auburn Park & Ride, 101 15th St NE, 98001
  • Bellevue: Newport Way Library, 14250 SE Newport Way, 98006
  • Duvall: Duvall Police Department/Depot Park, 26225 NE Burhen Way, 98019
  • Normandy Park: Normandy Park Towne Center, 19901 1st Ave S, 98148
  • North Bend: North Bend Library, 115 E 4th St, 98045

We now have 61 ballot drop boxes available for King County residents, with over 94% of residents living within 3 miles of a drop box.

Please return your Primary Election ballot at a drop box by 8 p.m. August 7 or by mail  – no stamp needed. Below is one of our most recent drop boxes, this one is at Seattle Pacific University.

One of our most recent drop boxes is at Seattle Pacific University.