Although it wasn’t a presidential election year, 2017 continued to tell the story of elections in King County and across the nation. From the Alabama senate race, to the Seattle mayoral primary, election news dominated the headlines in 2017.
As we close out the year, we looked back at our top five election stories in King County. Our most viewed blog post of 2017 showed how Seattle neighborhoods voted for mayor during the highly-contested primary. The results of our first pre-paid postage test was another story that was widely read and shared online. Check out the five most popular stories of 2017.
Recall elections don’t happen very often in King County, but when they do, they provide an opportunity for voters to decide whether or not to remove an elected official from office. Recall elections must occur before the end of the elected official’s term. Continue reading
More than 53 percent of all returned ballots were brought to a drop box during the General Election. That’s the highest usage of our drop boxes yet! About 295,000 ballots were deposited in a drop box, versus 257,000 ballots mailed through the U.S. Postal Service. Voter turnout in King County was 43 percent.
The 2017 Primary Election saw 48 percent of returned ballots brought to drop boxes. During the 2016 General Election, a majority of returned ballots (51.4 percent) were returned to drop boxes.
Every election, voters call and email us with a number of questions. Why did I receive a ballot for the previous resident of my home? What do I do if I forgot to put my ballot in the security envelope? But each election fields a few questions specific to the races on that year’s ballot. Here are some of the most frequent questions we heard this election.
1. I live in Seattle. Why aren’t any of the city’s candidates on my ballot?
If you live in Seattle and don’t see the city’s candidates on your ballot, it means you live in unincorporated King County. So, although you have a Seattle mailing address, you don’t live within the city limits, which means you don’t vote on city candidates or measures. There are 158,000 registered voters currently residing in unincorporated King County. These voters have mailing addresses in a specific city, such as Seattle or Renton, but don’t actually live within those city’s limits. For example, there are 9,594 voters living in White Center who have a Seattle address. Seattle candidates or measures do not appear on the voters’ ballots because their community falls outside Seattle’s boundaries.
Election Day is approaching and you’re wondering: where’s my ballot? Or you’re not even sure if you’re registered.
We’ve now made it easier than ever to find the information you need. Our new My Voter Information application helps you view your voter registration, track your ballot and even check your voting history.
Voters can see their current voter registration information, as well as the deadlines to update their registered address. And, voters eligible for the current election can see their voter registration details for the election. They can also see the candidates and measures on their ballot with links to the candidates’ statements in the voters’ pamphlet.
During an election, you can track your ballot at four different stages.
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.
Tuesday, Sept. 26 is National Voter Registration Day!
Don’t know what National Voter Registration Day is? We’ve got you covered. Started in 2012, NVRD is a non-partisan, unofficial national holiday, on which thousands of community groups and volunteers across the political spectrum register people to vote. It’s designed to create an annual moment when the entire nation focuses on helping Americans to exercise their most basic right—the right to vote.
This year, we added 11 new ballot drop boxes in time for the August 1 Primary Election, for a total of 54 drop boxes. About 94 percent of county residents now live within 3 miles of a drop box.
Despite the increase in drop boxes, slightly more people chose to mail their ballots during the primary. About 52 percent of ballots were sent through the mail, compared to 48 percent that were brought to a drop box.
The race for Seattle mayor is now over, with Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon advancing to the November General Election. On Tuesday, King County Elections certified the August 2017 Primary Election. Now that election results are final, we dived back into the data to see how Seattle neighborhoods voted for mayor. (See our updated map below, which now includes voter turnout.) A lot has changed since Election Night: Nikkita Oliver gained three more neighborhoods, and Moon won her first neighborhood.
This is a big local election year for King County, with more than 600 candidates running for office. Not all races will have a primary, though. Except for presidential primaries, Washington State uses a Top Two style primary system. Under this system, a registered voter does not declare a party affiliation and can vote for any candidate in each race, regardless of the candidate’s party preference. The top two candidates in each race advance to the General Election, regardless of their party affiliation.
For the August primary, the Seattle mayoral race has the most candidates. A total of 21 people are vying to be the city’s next mayor. The top two candidates with the most votes in the primary will move onto the General Election.
The Top Two system is popular among voters because it focuses on the candidates rather than the political parties. Washington hasn’t always had a Top Two primary system. From 1935 to 2003, the state held a “blanket primary” system where citizens could vote for a candidate of one party for one office, and then vote for a candidate of another party for the next office. The state briefly switched to a pick-a-party primary system in 2004, in which the voter was required to affiliate with a party and only vote for candidates of that party.