Last year we increased the number of ballot drop boxes in King County from 10 to 43, providing unprecedented convenience and access to voters. About 91 percent of King County residents now live within 3 miles of a drop box. That said we sometimes get questions about how drop boxes work: Where are they located? How long are they open? We’ve answered all of those curious questions, and more. Here are five things you should know about ballot drop boxes:
King County’s action to quadruple the number of ballot boxes this year proved to be really popular among voters. More than half of the ballots returned during the General Election were dropped off at a ballot box, a sharp increase from previous elections.
With strong support from King County Executive Dow Constantine and funding provided by the Metropolitan King County Council, Elections Director Julie Wise increased the number of drop boxes located across the county, from 10 to 43.
More than 90 percent of King County residents now live within 3 miles a ballot box.
The new drop box locations were selected based on criteria that included geographically isolated or culturally distinct communities as well as areas that have lower than average voter registration rates. Working with King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice, Elections evaluated more than 100 locations.
The new drop boxes were installed in two phases: 19 locations were added for the 2016 Primary and an additional 14 opened for the General Election. King County Council members, the Executive and local officials celebrated the openings by hosting ribbon cutting ceremonies at several locations, including the Kingsgate Library in Kirkland and the Lake City Library in Seattle.
King County Elections will continue to evaluate locations for additional drop boxes, particularly in communities that have historically been underserved.
At King County Elections, we’re all about making the voting process easier and more convenient. That’s why we rolled out 33 new ballot drop boxes in time for the General Election. About 91% of county residents now live within 3 miles of a drop box. And you know what? The extra coverage paid off. More than half (51.4%) of all returned ballots were brought to a drop box!
That got us thinking: which drop boxes had the highest ballot returns? Out of the 43 total drop boxes, here are the top 20.
1. Ballard Branch Library: 39,282
2. King County Elections Building: 31,896
3. Crossroads Shopping Center: 24,332
4. Redmond City Hall: 23,317
5. King County Administration Building: 22,602
6. Federal Way City Hall: 22,289
7. Burien City Hall: 19,630
8. University of Washington Campus – Schmitz Hall: 18,985
9. Bellevue Regional Library: 18,559
10. Issaquah City Hall: 17,631
11. Shoreline Library: 16,949
12. Seattle Central College – Broadway-Edison Building: 16,396
13. Lake City Library: 15,435
14. Lake Forest Park City Hall: 14,619
15. High Point Library: 14,614
16. Regional Justice Center: 14,373
17. Green Lake Community Center: 13,691
18. Covington Library: 13,539
19. Sammamish City Hall: 13,371
20. Fairwood Library: 12,535
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.
Sometimes it’s more convenient to drop a ballot on the way to or from somewhere instead of mailing it especially when the deadline looms. And who has a stamp handy anyways? Many of us rarely do.
Removing barriers and improving access to ensure that every voter is able to easily exercise their right to vote is one of the most important priorities for our department. Ballot drop boxes have become an important tool for voters here and thanks to a new proposal which was recently funded by the King County Council, the current number of drop boxes is going to grow from 10 to 43. This means that 91.5% of all King County residents will now live within 3 miles of a drop box.
King County Elections currently has 10 permanent ballot drop boxes and 12 temporary ballot-drop vans. The vans, which have limited hours and days of operation, will no longer be used. The planned expansion will add 33 permanent drop box locations. Installation of the boxes will be a phased approach:
29 ballot drop boxes will be available for the August 2016 Primary Election. The list of locations will be available on our website by June 15.
The remaining 14 ballot drop boxes will be available for the November 2016 General Election.
Deciding on how many drop boxes to have and where to put them can be a tricky balancing act. Considerations such as cost, traffic flow, proximity to transit options, parking, and the presence of underserved communities all play a part in the decision making process. We are committed to keeping voter access a high priority.