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

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Winning – it’s what we do!

We’re proud to share that we recently won several awards, three for our voter access programs and two for videos we created last year. These were part of our “Why Vote” campaign, developed from a collaborative partnership with Mammoth, a local marketing agency. Together we worked to create a compelling  public affairs media campaign to inspire registered voters in King County to vote.

NACo awards-transparentFirst things first, we received three awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for the great way we’re improving voter access for residents here in King County. NACo’s annual Achievement Awards recognize programs that are innovative and enhance services for residents.

We won the 2018 Achievement Award from NACo in two different categories. We will be formally recognized for these awards at the 2018 Annual Conference held in July:

If that wasn’t amazing enough, the great videos we created last year also each won several awards.

Continue reading

Candidate drawing for ballot order

People often ask how we determine the order of candidates on the ballot for each office. They’re never listed in a predictable way, like alphabetically, but are listed at random. We actually do this on purpose.

To determine the ballot order, we use a random number generator to create a sequence based on the office with the highest number of candidates. Once we have that sequence, the logic is applied to all candidate races. This random process to determine the order of candidates on the ballot for each office is useful to give everyone a fair chance and ensure there are no biases influencing the decision.

This year 11 candidates filed for Legislative District No. 34 State Senator and the random number generator created a sequence of 2, 3, 1, 11, 8, 7, 10, 6, 5, 4, 9. That sequence was then applied to offices with 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 candidates and so on as shown in the table below.

ballot random

So when we apply this logic to Legislative District No. 43, Representative Position No. 2 with 3 candidates the following becomes the ballot order:

ballot random2

We only do this process for offices filed with King County. For offices filed with the state, or with another county, they hold their own drawing. We then provide the final candidate order with these other counties and the Secretary of State’s office, as they provide their final list to us.

Once the candidates are in ballot order, we post the official list on the Who has filed page of our website.

Educating the community about restoring felon voting rights

It’s important for voters to make their voice heard. Here in Washington State we take extra steps to ensure that all people who can vote, know they have the right to do so. This extends to felon voting rights, and helping each person understand their right to vote and need to register.

Recently, a woman in Texas made headlines for voting in a general election while still on probation. She had broken a state law that does not allow convicted felons to vote until their entire sentence has been served. Unaware of these voting restrictions under Texas law, she was sentenced to five years.

This tragic story is a reminder of the importance of voter education. In Washington State, a voter’s right is automatically restored when they are no longer under the authority of the Department of Corrections (DOC). This also means someone convicted of a felony in another state or federal court has the right to vote restored to them when they are no longer incarcerated for that felony. These individuals simply need to re-register to vote, which can be done online, by mail or in person. If this woman had been here in Washington, she would have been informed that her right to vote has been reinstated upon release from the DOC, and encouraged to re-register.

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Candidates interested in participating in 2018 elections get ready!

Do you ever wonder what it takes to run for office? We have 94 open positions this year.

With the candidate filing period starting next week, May 14-18, here are the things anyone interested in running for office should do:

This year candidates can also file to be a Precinct Committee Officer. There are additional resources for PCO candidates:

candidate filing 1We encourage anyone interested in running for office to subscribe to our candidate notifications for alerts about campaign filing, deadlines, etc.

Candidate filing week begins May 14 and ends May 18. During that week, we’ll update the list of who has filed to run for each office. Make sure to check back with us soon!