Spotlight on Voter Education Fund recipient: Being Empowered thru Supportive Transitions, BEST

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.

Pictured: BEST volunteers share voting information at a local community event.

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.

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Recount refresh

Last week’s election had a few close races, and while currently none are expected to trigger a recount, we thought it would be helpful to share how a recount works.

It’s important to know that there are two different types of recounts, machine and manual, and that there are different thresholds for each, as well as for the type of race. There are also no mandatory recounts for state advisory votes or local measures.

Mandatory Machine Recount – A machine recount is when in all ballots for that race are re-scanned and re-tabulated electronically. For all races and statewide measures a recount is triggered if the gap is fewer than 2,000 votes and also less than .5% (.005) of the total overall votes cast for both candidates.

Mandatory Manual Recount – A manual recount is when all ballots for that race are counted by hand. For statewide races and measures a recount is triggered if the gap is fewer than 1,000 votes and also less than .25% (.0025) of the total overall votes cast for both candidates. For other races a recount is triggered if the gap is fewer than 150 votes and also less than .25% (.0025) of the total overall votes cast for both candidates.

Occasionally, someone may request a recount. This situation requires an application for a requested recount which must be filed within two business days after the County Canvassing Board or Secretary of State has declared the official results of the primary or election for which the recount is requested. The application must specify the race or state measure to be recounted.

Visit our Elections website or the Secretary of State’s website for more information about the recount process. View our previous blog post about recounts here.

We’ve added more drop boxes!

We are excited to share that we have opened 5 new drop boxes in these last few months in time for the August 7 Primary Election!

Communities excited to receive a drop box in their location include:

  • Auburn: Auburn Park & Ride, 101 15th St NE, 98001
  • Bellevue: Newport Way Library, 14250 SE Newport Way, 98006
  • Duvall: Duvall Police Department/Depot Park, 26225 NE Burhen Way, 98019
  • Normandy Park: Normandy Park Towne Center, 19901 1st Ave S, 98148
  • North Bend: North Bend Library, 115 E 4th St, 98045

We now have 61 ballot drop boxes available for King County residents, with over 94% of residents living within 3 miles of a drop box.

Please return your Primary Election ballot at a drop box by 8 p.m. August 7 or by mail  – no stamp needed. Below is one of our most recent drop boxes, this one is at Seattle Pacific University.

One of our most recent drop boxes is at Seattle Pacific University.

Winning – it’s what we do!

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.

NACo awards-transparentFirst 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:

If that wasn’t amazing enough, the great videos we created last year also each won several awards.

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Candidate drawing for ballot order

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.

ballot random

So when we apply this logic to Legislative District No. 43, Representative Position No. 2 with 3 candidates the following becomes the ballot order:

ballot random2

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.

Educating the community about restoring felon voting rights

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.

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Candidates interested in participating in 2018 elections get ready!

Do you ever wonder what it takes to run for office? We have 94 open positions this year.

With the candidate filing period starting next week, May 14-18, here are the things anyone interested in running for office should do:

This year candidates can also file to be a Precinct Committee Officer. There are additional resources for PCO candidates:

candidate filing 1We encourage anyone interested in running for office to subscribe to our candidate notifications for alerts about campaign filing, deadlines, etc.

Candidate filing week begins May 14 and ends May 18. During that week, we’ll update the list of who has filed to run for each office. Make sure to check back with us soon!

It’s official! Prepaid postage is here!

Monday was a big day for us. We are thrilled to announce that prepaid postage within King County was officially approved by the King County Council.

It will impact the upcoming primary and general elections, starting with our August primary election, and is one more way we are removing barriers for our voters!

“Prepaid postage along with our ballot drop boxes makes it easy for everyone to exercise their civic right to vote,” says Elections Director Julie Wise.

We look forward to how prepaid postage will encourage higher ballot return rates and allow all communities to become further engaged in the elections process.

Thank you to the community, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and the King County Council for your support!

For more information, read our official press release here.

prepaid-postage (1)

Voter Education Fund kickoff was a success!

It was a long day of training and information but the recipients of our Voters Education Fund program were happy to participate!

Thank you to every organization who came to our kickoff today and who is doing great things to help expand voter education and outreach to underserved communities throughout King County!

VEF3.jpg

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Helpful video to find voting data by precincts

Are you interested in finding past election results and other information according to precinct levels? We’ve put together a short tutorial video that goes over all the available information within the King county interactive precinct level election results data. It explains how to use the filter tool to drill down into more specific data, and how to export this information for later use.

The instructional video is posted on our Past elections webpage and will be linked to from the current election results as well.