When should I expect my ballot? Key dates to making your vote count.

As the countdown clocks continue to tick down the days between now and November 3rd, we’re getting lots of questions about what to expect when and how to make sure you hit all the important deadlines to make sure your vote counts. Here are some key dates to put in your calendar to make sure that you’re ready to vote!

September 18 – King County mails out ballots to our service and overseas voters on this day, beating that 45-day requirement set out in federal law. Sending ballots early to those overseas helps to ensure that they receive their ballot with ample time to vote and get it back to us. If you’re not a service or overseas voter, hold tight. Your ballot is coming in October!

September 22 – National Voter Registration Day! This is not a deadline but it is a handy day to know about. You’ll likely see lots of chatter on social media this day about registering to vote and updating your registration. No need to wait, though – check that your registration is current today or take the plunge and get registered if you’re not already. Encourage your friends and family to get registered and check that their registration is up to date too!

October 6-13 – Did you know that you’ll get TWO voters’ pamphlets for this election? That’s right. You’ll get one from the Secretary of State’s Office that features most of the candidates and measures you’ll be voting on. Keep an eye out for the state pamphlet during this timeframe.

October 13-16 – Your local voters’ pamphlet should arrive in this timeframe. The local pamphlet will feature any local ballot measures for you to consider, as well as judicial races specific to King County. Hang onto it and read up! We often hear from voters that judicial candidates are the ones they feel least informed on.

October 14 – Ballots MAILED! For the vast majority of voters, this is the day we’re sticking your ballot out in the mail. Some voters will start to see them in their mailboxes as early as the 15th or 16th and we expect all voters to have their ballots in hand by Monday, October 19th’s mail delivery. We saw normal delivery times in the Primary from USPS with 99.96% of voters having received their ballot within five days of being sent. We expect to see those same delivery times in the General so keep an eye on your mailbox!

October 15Drop boxes open! All 70+ drop boxes across King County will be inspected, opened, and security sealed on this day, ready and waiting for your ballot. Don’t leave them lonely for too long. Get that ballot in early!

October 20 – Definitely put this one in your calendar or set an alert. If you do not have your ballot by Tuesday, October 20th, give us a call or go online to access and print your ballot at home. Don’t wait until Election Day to go wonder where your ballot is. If you think you should have gotten one, let us know on the 20th.

October 26 – This is the online voter registration deadline and the final day we can accept mailed paper registration forms. After this day, you’ll have to come see us in person to get registered or make an address update. Don’t end up waiting in line because you waited until the last minute.  Make sure your registration is up to date today at VoteWA.gov.

October 31 – Most Vote Center locations will be open on Saturday, October 31, Monday, November 2, and Tuesday, November 3. While we’ll be open at Election Headquarters in Renton for the entire voting period, the Vote Centers around the county may be a more convenient option for you. We’re still finalizing a few locations but we already know that we’ll be at CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle and have locations in Kent, Bellevue, and more! These Vote Centers are available for those who need assistance or to use an assistive device, those who need to register in person, or choose to pick up a replacement ballot rather than printing one at home. Visiting on Saturday, October 31 is your best bet to not having to wait in a long line and beating that Election Day rush.

November 3 – ELECTION DAY! This is it. This is the day we’ve all been waiting for. We hop you all know this by now but your ballot MUST be postmarked by November 3 or in one of our drop boxes by 8 p.m. sharp. We cannot stress the ‘sharp’ piece too much. When the clocks strike 8 p.m. on the dot, the drop boxes close. That means that even if it’s 45 seconds after 8 p.m., it’s too late. If it’s two minutes past 8 p.m., it’s too late. If it’s 15 minutes past 8 p.m., again – too late. No amount of arguing can make your ballot magically be on time so just don’t wait. Get it done early.

For most, Election Day means that your part is done. You voted. You tracked your ballot and made sure it counted. You’re set. However, there are still a couple of dates to be mindful of even after Election Day.

November 12 & 18 – We’ll hold our post-Election Day Canvassing Board meetings on these days. The Canvassing Board is made up of the Director of Elections and representatives from both the King County Council and King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. We won’t lie, unless you’re an election nerd it may not be that exciting to watch but the Board can deal with some interesting decisions around how to record a vote when it falls outside of the usual voter intent guidelines. We’ll be livestreaming from our Facebook page so tune in at 1:30 p.m. (both days) there.

November 23 – This is a big one! If an issue with your signature arises, like you forgot to sign or your signature didn’t match closely enough with what’s on file, this is the last day that you can submit the form needed to count your vote.

Anyone who has their ballot challenged will receive a letter from us and, if we have it, we’ll give you a call and send an email as well. Be sure to add that information where it asks for it on your return envelope so we can reach you faster in case of an issue. You can also track your ballot online and the tracker will show you if we’ve had to issue a challenge for any reason and tell you how to fix it.

We must receive the appropriate form by 4:30 pm on November 23rd to count your ballot. The fastest way to get it back to us is to take a clear photo or scan and email it to voter.services@kingcounty.gov. You can also return it by fax, mail, or in person if you need to!

November 24 – Certification Day! Certification means that the election is final. There’s no more counting votes, no more tabulating of results. It’s done (unless there’s a recount). The Canvassing Board will meet at 3 p.m. to officially certify the results and you can watch it live from our Facebook page.

At any time throughout the year, you can find important election dates on our website. Check it out and bookmark it so you know what you need to do by when.