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.
On Wednesday, March 28, we held a press conference to share our proposal for prepaid postage with local media. The press conference featured our director Julie Wise, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Rod Dembowski.
“When I was elected, one of my commitments was to remove barriers to voting,” Julie said. “As we increase access with prepaid postage and ballot drop boxes, we’re beginning to see a real impact.”
When I was running to be your Director of Elections, I attended a candidate forum organized by a Vietnamese-American civic group. I asked the audience of about 100 people to raise their hands if they knew King County Elections translated voting materials into Vietnamese. To my surprise, only one person raised their hand. I knew then that we needed to work harder for a more inclusive voting process.
Are you a new U.S. citizen? First, congratulations! We know the path to citizenship can be a long one, so well done. One of the things you can now do as a U.S. citizen is vote. But first, you’ll need to register. There are a number of ways.
Did you know King County Elections offers voting materials in Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese? Providing translation services is just another way our office is working to improve voter access.
The Federal Voting Rights Act requires jurisdictions to provide translated election materials in another language if 10,000 people or 5 percent of voting-age citizens speak that language and have limited English proficiency. In accordance with this law, we produce election information and voting materials in Chinese and Vietnamese.
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.”
When it comes to our signatures, most of us have changed the way we sign our names over time. As a teenager, maybe you dotted the “I” in your name with a heart. Or you got married and changed your name. Either way, our signatures change with the passage of time.
This week we sent out 13,570 letters asking registered voters to update their signatures with us. The letters were sent to voters whose signatures have changed over time and therefore a more current signature of record is needed.
Each election we compare the signature on a voter’s return ballot envelope to the signature from their voter registration file. Our team analyzes the voter’s handwriting, looking for indicators such as slants, strokes and spacing. By law, the signatures need to match for us to accept the voter’s ballot. This is why keeping your signature updated with us is so important.
A voter who receives a signature update letter this week has had their signature verified and their vote counted. However, our team has determined that the voter’s signature is beginning to look different from the one in their voter registration file. We recommend the voter updates their signature now to avoid any issues with their ballots in the future.
You can always voluntarily update your signature with us by completing this form. Questions? Call us at 206-296-VOTE (8683) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.