Making every vote count

Washington State is a “voter intent” state which means we make every effort to count your vote. Even when a ballot isn’t properly filled out (for example if it’s filled out with a pencil or if a voter circles a candidate rather than filling in the oval) it can likely still be counted. In fact, the Washington State Secretary of State created a Voter Intent book full of pictorial examples (see below) on how a variety of votes should be interpreted. If a situation is has not been addressed in the Voter Intent Book, it is up to the County Canvassing Board to determine voter intent.

Making every vote count is a key component of fair and accurate elections. Besides analyzing ballots closely for voter intent, we give many voters a second chance to “cure” or make their vote valid. We send out “challenge” letters (and phone calls) to ask voters to update their signature so it can be verified. Having a 2-3 week period between Election Day and Certification Day gives voters a chance to respond to a “challenge” and get their vote counted. Challenge letters start going out as soon as ballots start coming in, and continue to be sent up to the Election Day deadline.

If you receive a letter or phone call from us, please respond as soon as possible – Presidential Primary Election challenge responses are due by 4 p.m. on June 6.

Example of an overvote
Example of messy marks
Example of a ballot with written instructions