In 2011, Washington State shifted to vote by mail. For every election in which you are eligible to vote, we mail you a ballot with measures and candidates specific to your address. While vote by mail has improved voter access for many, not all voting-age residents have a traditional address. In the 2016 King County One Night Count, over 10,000 people, the majority of which are of voting age, were counted as being homeless. These people are staying in many places ranging from encampments to emergency shelters and transitional housing. So how do they get access to voting?
Elections and voter registration systems are back in the headlines. And all the talk about alleged voter fraud may have you wondering how King County measures up. But did you know the County has a group of citizens whose job is to help maintain the integrity of our elections system? The Citizens’ Elections Oversight Committee (CEOC) was established in 2006 by King County ordinance with the mission “…to help King County restore and maintain public confidence in elections.”
We’re excited to announce that King County Elections is testing pre-paid postage for the February special elections in Maple Valley and the Shoreline School District. During last year’s General Election, we received some questions from voters about why we didn’t pay for the postage on ballots returned through the U.S. Postal Service. We have considered the idea in recent years, but before we can implement pre-paid postage, we knew we had to test it out first.
You might wonder: what does the Elections department do all year? What does it do when there isn’t a General Election? Our 66 employees work year-round on a variety of things. Here are just some of the projects and tasks we take on:
The 2017 Washington State legislative session opened this week, and we wanted to let you know about our priorities for this session. We have five main priorities to make voting as accessible and barrier-free as possible. Ultimately, we believe that improving voting accesses makes government more representative of the public. Here’s a look at our top legislative priorities:
We crunched the numbers for the November 2016 General Election to see how the county’s six biggest cities voted. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton carried all six cities in her bid for U.S. President. While Seattle and Bellevue voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, Republican candidate and now President-elect Donald J. Trump fared better in south King County. Trump lost to Clinton by fewer than 10,000 votes in Federal Way.
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.
We know, we know. It’s been a really long election year. But if you’re anything like us, you can’t get enough of watching democracy in action. Curl up on the couch this holiday season and binge watch some of our favorite election and voting rights movies. From drama to comedy, we’ve got you covered:
This historical drama chronicles the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Alabama voting rights marches lead by civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr.
2. The Ides of March
A political dram a starring George Clooney, The Ides of March is about a scandal during a contested presidential primary.
This black comedy-drama starring Reese Witherspoon is about a high school student’s battle for class president.
Set in 1912, Suffragette chronicles the stories of women fighting for the right to vote in the United Kingdom.
5. The Campaign
This political satire comedy starring the hilarious Will Ferrell is about the Congressional race for a fictional 14th District in North Carolina.
This 2008 film is based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. Milk was the first gay person to be elected to public office in California, serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
7. Black Sheep
Starring Chris Farley and David Spade, Black Sheep is a comedy about a candidate’s race for Governor of Washington. Farley plays the candidate’s embarrassing younger brother.
8. Our Brand is Crisis
Starring Sandra Bullock, this comedy drama is a fictionalized account of American political strategists working for a candidate in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election.
9. Napoleon Dynamite
This 2004 comedy revolves around the socially-awkward Napoleon Dynamite, a high school student from Idaho. Napoleon helps his friend Pedro run for class president.
10. Primary Colors
Primary Colors is a fictional account of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.
Did we leave out any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.
Are you shopping for the holidays and want to avoid crowded stores? We put together this list of five voting gifts you can conveniently buy online. Use them as stocking stuffers or bring them to a gift exchange at your next holiday party. Our list includes a Cat in the Hat book that introduces children to the electoral system. We’ve also got trendy Rock the Vote fleece hoodies perfect for teenagers and young adults. Check out our favorite gifts:
1. Vote Early Vote Often T-Shirt – $17.99
2. Vote Button – $3.25
3. Vote Crew Socks – $12.50
4. Rock The Vote Unisex Fleece Hoodie – $58.00
5. One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote – $7.94
Here’s a question we get from time to time: What happens to your voter registration if you die? Can someone vote as you? Once you die, there’s really nothing mysterious about your voter registration. When we learn a voter has passed away, we simply cancel their registration.
Over the last year we’ve removed more than 8,500 deceased voters from registration rolls. We learn about a voter’s death through a few ways. Each day we check newspaper obituaries to see who has died. We cross reference the name, date of birth, location or any other pertinent information in each obituary with our voter registration database.
Another way to confirm death is through information that is shared with us from other government agencies: The Washington State Department of Health and the Washington Secretary of State’s office, which sends us social security information.
The final way we learn of a voter’s death is through another voter, usually a family member. These notifications typically come in a few days after ballots have been sent out. Over the last year, 600 voters reported the death of another voter.
If a voter you know has passed away, fill out and sign a deceased voter registration cancellation form. If someone accidentally gets canceled, their registration can be reactivated within three years. After three years, canceled registrations become permanent and the voter would have to register again.