County Council, Elections partner in making voting more convenient and accessible
Expanding ballot drop off locations throughout King County
The Metropolitan King County Council and King County Elections’ are working to expand the number of ballot drop-off locations in King County. The Council unanimously adopted a motion requesting the development of a plan that will expand access while ensuring geographic equity and convenience for voters.
“The foundation of our democracy is the right to vote – we are aiming to strengthen our democracy by ensuring more King County citizens have the ability to access that right,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, the author of the legislation. “I believe this will be a significant step towards increasing voter participation by making voting more convenient for citizens throughout King County.”
Julie Wise, Director-Elect of King County Elections, is making increasing voter participation and access a priority for the department. “I am excited that the King County Council supports the Elections Department’s efforts to expand services to the citizens of King County,” she added. “Additional ballot drop box locations are a priority for my office and will be a great start in expanding access for the voters of King County.”
Following King County’s transition to an all-mail ballot system, in 2008, the Council approved a plan for regional voting centers as well as ballot drop boxes, to ensure there were alternatives to placing the ballot in the mail. The adopted plan authorized the placement of 39 ballot drop boxes throughout the county, but budget reductions adopted as a result of an economic downturn resulted in a significant reduction in the number of ballot drop boxes actually implemented. Since then, the County has moved to restore drop boxes but has not yet deployed more than 25 ballot drop locations, some of which are provided by temporary mobile vans.
“People in King County shouldn’t lose their right to vote because they can’t get to a mail box,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “Having ballot drop boxes located in convenient locations expands the opportunity for all people to be able to vote.”
“Voter turnout has been extremely low, and providing citizens the opportunity to have their voice heard through expanding additional ballot drop box locations may increase participation in the election process,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, a co-sponsor of the motion.
“To give people a voice we have to make voting more accessible and adding additional secure drop boxes is a good start to this goal,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn.
The adopted motion calls for King County Elections to send to the Council a plan to improve access to and convenience of ballot drop-off locations throughout King County.
This plan should include a proposed number and locations for additional drop-off locations, estimated costs, and an implementation timeline. The proposal for expansion should seek to ensure geographic equity and convenience for voters, including by analyzing potential use of all public library locations in King County. The plan is to be sent to the Council by April 30, 2016.