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 →
More than 4,000 King County citizens registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a number almost 10 times the daily average! A total 3,454 people registered online when NVRD kicked off on September 25. Another 574 people mailed in paper registration forms, but we also saw a second surge of 837 forms delivered on October 1.
Today is National Voter Registration Day! 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 citizens to exercise their most basic right—the right to vote.
Of course we are focused on voter registration all year long, but it’s great to have a day when everyone spends a few minutes thinking about it and spreading the word. Happy National Voter Registration Day!
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.
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.
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.
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.
First 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:
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.
So when we apply this logic to Legislative District No. 43, Representative Position No. 2 with 3 candidates the following becomes the ballot order:
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.
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.