We make choices every day, from what color shirt to wear to what kind of latte to drink. But when it comes to life’s important choices, many of us let others do the choosing for us. I’m talking about the choices we make by voting. My job as an election administrator is to make democracy work – and democracy works best when everyone has an opportunity to make their voices heard. It’s my job to facilitate that. But, I can’t do it without you.
Not enough of us vote in local elections, which have the biggest impact on our quality of life. Turnout during the 2017 primary was just 34%. That means a third of the voting population decided on measures and determined which candidates would go on the General Election ballot. If you didn’t vote, the choices were made for you.
When I was running to be your Director of Elections, I attended a candidate forum organized by a Vietnamese-American civic group. I asked the audience of about 100 people to raise their hands if they knew King County Elections translated voting materials into Vietnamese. To my surprise, only one person raised their hand. I knew then that we needed to work harder for a more inclusive voting process.
Today we mailed nearly 1.3 million ballots to registered voters for the November 8 General Election. This election could be a historic one for King County: we’re expecting more than 1 million ballots to be returned, a record number!
Not sure what candidates or measures are on the ballot? King County households also will begin receiving their local voters’ pamphlet in the mail this week. You’ll receive two voters’ pamphlets, a local one from King County and a state one from the Office of the Secretary of State. Voters’ pamphlets are available online, at Seattle and King County libraries, and at the King County Elections office in Renton.
I want to encourage you to exercise your right to vote. We count every single ballot to ensure that each and every voter has their voice heard. Return your ballot through the Postal Service, which requires a first class stamp. Ballots must be postmarked by November 8. Or save a stamp and return your ballot to any of the 43 ballot drop boxes open for this election. More than 91% of King County residents live within three miles of a ballot drop box, making voting in our County more convenient than ever before. Drop boxes will be open 24 hours a day from October 20 to 8 p.m. on November 8, Election Day.
And if you haven’t registered to vote yet, you can still do so in person at the King County Elections office in Renton or the Voter Registration annex downtown.