A Voter’s Guide to the Finish Line: Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

Election Day is officially a week away! Can you believe it? With ballots mailed and drop boxes open since mid-October, here at King County Elections, we’ve been in the middle of an election for a while now and are going full speed ahead!

This year, we projected record-breaking turnout at 90%, and it looks like we’re well on our way! King County has shown up and we’re already at about 55% turnout. Out of 1.4 million registered voters, we’ve had more than 800,000 ballots returned already! We’ve never seen early turnout like this. To hit 90% turnout, we still need to hear from over half a million King County voters.

There are still ballots waiting to be returned. Ballots sitting on that coffee table—yes, your coffee table. Ballots underneath that one folder on the countertop, tucked away. Ballots your toddler or puppy ripped up, shamelessly. We get it. Life can be rough. But we’re here for you.

Here are some answers to some commonly frequent questions we’ve received. And if you’re still not sure, that’s OK! We have a voter hotline you can call 206-296-VOTE (8683) to help you figure it out. 

Can I still register to vote? How?

Monday, October 26 was the deadline to register to vote online or by mail. But don’t worry! You can still register to vote in-person at any one of our Vote Centers that open this Saturday, October 31, are open on Monday, November 2, and close on Election Day, November 3, 8p.m. sharp. Click here to find your nearest Vote Center location and schedule. 

Anxious and want to get registered ASAP? Here at our headquarters in Renton, our Vote Center is already open on weekdays from 8:30a.m. to 6:00p.m. Come on down!

Anyone who comes to a Vote Center in-person should plan on wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines. All staff will be masked and gloved and we will have markers on the floor and staff on hand to help keep lines orderly and distanced.

To be eligible to register to vote, you must be a US citizen, a Washington State resident, and not currently incarcerated or under community custody following a felony conviction. To cast a ballot, you must be 18 years old by Election Day.

Help! I lost my ballot! What do I do?

If your ballot hasn’t arrived, or you can’t find it anywhere, don’t worry. You can print out a ballot. Click here to start. Follow the instructions. If you need a tutorial, watch this video and go step-by-step. Be sure to return your ballot to your nearest drop box or stick it in the mail just make sure it’s postmarked by Election Day, November 3. We recommend using a drop box over the mail as we get closer and closer to Election Day.

What’s on the ballot?

The ballot is a two-sided, 18-inch long document with a lot of ballot measures and races. To understand what each measure, advisory vote or candidate does or stands for, you can check out your Washington State Voter’s Pamphlet and the King County Elections’ Pamphlet. While we always recommend voting the entire ballot (these decisions affect our day-to-day lives!), it’s never required, and voters should feel comfortable leaving a race or measure blank.

You may have noticed the Presidential race is in the right corner on the first side of your ballot – the only candidate race on the front side of your ballot. Washington State law determines the order of the ballot, with statewide measures and advisory votes first.

Candidate order on the ballot is also determined by Washington State law. For the Presidential race, the candidate listed first depends on which Party won the most votes in the last Presidential election in Washington. For the other races on the ballot, whichever candidate did better in the primary will go first.

You can look up a sample ballot on our website.

Where can I drop off my ballot?

There are three ways:

  1. At a ballot drop box: You can drop off your ballot drop box. We have 73 across the county and there’s one located within a 3-mile radius of 96% of our voters. Find your nearest drop box here.
  2. By mail. If you’re going to send by mail, we recommend dropping your ballot in the mail by THIS Friday, the Friday before Election Day, to make sure it gets postmarked in time to be counted. Your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day.
  3. At a Vote Center: If you need to register to vote or assistance with your ballot, come to one of our Vote Centers. Trained staff and specialized equipment are available to help voters with disabilities cast a private, independent ballot. While anyone can come to a Vote Center, we encourage voters who do not require assistance to return their ballots by drop box. There are no voting machines or booths so if you’re waiting for an in-person voting ‘experience’ that’s not what you’ll find at a Vote Center. You will be issued the same paper ballot that you were mailed at home and drop it in a secure bag or box at the Vote Center.

Are drop boxes safe?

Ballot drop boxes are a secure and convenient way for voters to return their ballot. Coming in at over 1,000 pounds (when empty!), drop boxes are constructed of half-inch thick steel, bolted to concrete with steel bolts and have multiple locking mechanisms, no pry points and are equipped with tamper-evident seals. Check out this video to see just how safe your ballot is in a drop box. Find your nearest drop box here.

How are ballots picked-up from drop boxes? How often?

We’re now picking up at least twice a day at all boxes with more for our higher traffic locations. Drop boxes are emptied in teams of two trained King County Elections staff with a comprehensive set of security procedures. Check out this video to see our team in action.

Can I hand-out election materials near a drop box, mailbox or Vote Center?

By law, there can be no electioneering (actively campaigning or advocating for any candidate, ballot or measure) within 25-feet of a ballot drop box or within Vote Center. That means no campaign signs, no handing out literature, no stumping for your candidate wherever people are dropping off their ballots. If you see any electioneering happening near a drop box, please report it to us at 206-296-VOTE (8683) or tag us on social media @kcelections.

What’s the latest I can return my ballot?

The very latest is on Election Day, November 3 at 8 p.m. sharp. Not 8 p.m. and 30 seconds, not 8:02, and definitely not 8:15. But don’t wait that late! Check that off your list and vote before Election Day! Find your nearest drop box here.

I got two ballots. Why?

Don’t worry. It happens. Just fill out one ballot and return it to your nearest drop box, by mail or to your nearest Vote Center. We only count one ballot per person. Oh, and don’t forget your signature, it’s how we verify it’s your ballot and count your vote.

How can I track my ballot?

Track your ballot here. From the tracker, you can check your voter registration information, track your ballot and read about the contests—if any—on your ballot. Once you return your ballot, give it a couple of days to update. If you’re still not seeing anything, you can call 206-296-VOTE and we’ll help you track it down or resolve any issues. We’ll also mail, call and text any number we have on file to notify you if we need additional information. 

Where does my ballot go?

Your ballot goes to King County Elections’ Headquarters in Renton to be processed and counted. We have staff working every single day to sort your ballot, verify your signature (and therefore, your vote), separate ballot from envelope and tabulate every single vote.

You can watch our team in action anytime. We have eight webcams livestreaming 24/7 – though you’ll see the most action between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. Watch live and learn about the process here.

Why was my signature challenged?

It happens. Our goal is always to count your ballot and make sure your voice is heard. Most of the time, we’re able to sort it out, but sometimes we may need you to update your signature by filling out a Signature Resolution Form we’ll send to you in that case.

If your signature is challenged, the good news is that there’s time to fix it. You’ll have till 4:30 p.m. on November 23 – the day before certification, to fill out the Signature Resolution Form. You can return the form by mail, or scan and email a clear picture of your form back to elections@kingcounty.gov.

To learn more about signature challenges, click here.

I voted. Where are the stickers?

While we’ll have “I voted!” stickers at each of our Vote Centers, those who return their ballot by mail or drop box can download digital stickers for their social media pages here. Make sure you tag us, @kcelections!

What resources are there to share with my friends, family and on social media?

First off, follow and tag us across social media: @kcelections. Then, check out these materials you can use on social or in your family group chat. Materials include fun, educational graphics, images and tips on how to vote. And, they come in multiple languages, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean and English.

Materials:

When will we know the results?

Results will be posted beginning on November 3 after 8 p.m. We aim to have results up by 8:15 p.m. but it’s going to be a big file to upload this year so be patient. We’ll post on social media @kcelections if it looks like things are taking much longer than that. Results will be posted on our website here and you can find statewide results on the Secretary of State’s website.  From there, we will update on weekdays at around 4p.m.

To get the most meaningful results on Election Night, return your ballot before Election Day! That way we can have your vote processed, counted, and included in those Election Night results!

What security measures is King County Elections taking?

Washington State has been doing vote-by-mail for over-15-years. In King County, we’ve voted-by-mail for over a decade. We’re prepared and ready for whatever comes are way to make sure your ballot is safely returned and securely counted.

We’re working closely with federal, state and other county partners daily. We have layers of both physical and cyber security protections to ensure the integrity and accuracy of our election.

I have more questions. Where do I go?

If you have any concerns, give us a call at 206-296-VOTE (8683). We can help clarify any question or issue you have. Similarly, follow us on social media @kcelections to get the latest on election updates and tips.

One thought on “A Voter’s Guide to the Finish Line: Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

  1. Rich Lins October 28, 2020 / 8:31 am

    In a pilot study conducted by Kings County Washington, think Seattle, for the 2016 general election half of the voters received ballots with postage prepaid return envelopes and half received ballots without postage being prepaid. The return rate skyrocketed from 43% to 74%. That is an amazing 72% increase in the return rate. Now county election officials are predicting a 90% voter turn out because in WA, as in OR and CA all voters get postage prepaid return envelopes with their mailed out ballot. To see more go to change.org and search for Colorado Ballots. Do something amazing today, support the effort to get all mailed ballots sent the way they should, with postage prepaid return envelopes. Rich Lins, The Stamp Guy.

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