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From the director

Julie Wise, Director of ElectionsI am excited to share with you King County Election’s Year in Review for 2017. I’m very proud of our many accomplishments. We’ve selected ten that we believe represent our mission to improve voter access and to conduct fair, open and accurate elections.

Most important to me is the work we did to remove barriers to voting. Elections opened 12 new ballot drop boxes throughout King County, for a current total of 55. Many of the new additions were in cities and communities receiving their first drop box. Voters continue to greatly appreciate this option as we saw more than half of all ballots returned to a drop box during the 2017 Primary and General elections.

We successfully piloted prepaid postage during the February and April special elections. As part of their ballot packets, voters received return envelopes with the postage already paid. We were thrilled to see that overall voter turnout for the elections was seven-to-ten points higher than our projections.

Also in 2017, we joined forces with the Seattle Foundation to create the Voter Education Fund, a government and philanthropic partnership to remove barriers to voting in diverse and historically underserved communities. A total of 30 community-based organizations received $435,000 in grants to increase voter engagement in their communities.

Lastly, we replaced our elections tabulation equipment with a state-of-the-art system that better serves the County’s growing voter population. The new system has allowed us to process ballots with increased efficiency and produce faster results on election night.

As we head into 2018, I’m excited about the future. We’re hoping to launch prepaid postage countywide and are actively working towards this goal. We’re also working with the State Auditor and the US Department of Homeland Security to conduct security audits of our facility and IT systems. I look forward to 2018 being another year of success and continual improvement.


Signature for Director of Elections Julie Wise

Julie Wise
Director of Elections

Tabulation equipment scanning ballots

New tabulation system

Elections replaced its decade-old tabulation equipment with a new state-of-the-art system.

In 2017, Elections upgraded to a new tabulation and voting system that better serves the County’s growing voter population. The new equipment consists of user-friendly accessible voting units, high-speed scanners and an improved system to correct ballots with irregularities. Read more

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Prepaid postage envelope

Prepaid postage pilots

Prepaid postage was provided on ballot return envelopes during two special elections.

Elections successfully piloted prepaid postage during two special elections: The February 2017 election in the City of Maple Valley and the Shoreline School District, and the April 2017 election in Vashon. Objectives for the pre-paid postage test included understanding whether or not the process worked administratively and to see if more voters returned their ballots than in previous elections. Overall voter turnout was about eight points higher than projected. Read more

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Woman voting

Voter Education Fund

King County Elections and Seattle Foundation provided $435,000 in funding for voter engagement in historically underrepresented communities.

The Voter Education Fund is a government, philanthropic and community partnership to remove barriers to voting in diverse communities. A total of 30 community-based organizations received funding to offer basic education about voting in King County and technical assistance, such as helping voters complete a voter registration form. Read more

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Person on laptop

Record-breaking number of candidates

More than 600 candidates filed for office.

There were more than 330 local offices subject to election in 2017. Elections organized and hosted two candidate workshops for those interested in running for office in the County. The workshops were free and open to the public. Candidate filing took place from May 15-19. A total of 634 people filed to run for office, setting a new record.

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Person on phone

My Voter Information tool

King County Elections launched a new application that allows voters to view their registration information and track their ballots at four different stages.

The new My Voter Information application allows voters to see their current registration information, the candidates and measures on their ballot, and to be able to track their ballot at four different stages. A voter can see when their ballot was sent, when it was received, when their signature was verified and finally, when their ballot was counted. Read more

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King County Administration Building

Expanded service

The Elections Annex in downtown Seattle expanded service.

In addition to offering voter registration services, the Elections Annex now serves as an Accessible Voting Center beginning 20 days before each election. The annex also accepts signature challenge letters.

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Interactive voter participation map

New interactive maps

Maps show voter registration and turnout based on demographics.

The Geographic Information System team launched two, interactive maps that provide demographic data. The voter turnout map shows the percentage of voter turnout by area or precinct for the 2010-2016 general elections. The map shows turnout by year for all voting precincts. The voter registration map shows the percentage of registered voters by census tract for the 2013-2016 general elections. King County has an overall 80 percent registration rate.

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Woman returning ballot at drop box

More ballot drop boxes

Elections opened 12 new ballot drop boxes in 2017.

Several locations received a drop box for the first time, including the Central District in Seattle, Fall City, Kenmore, Mercer Island, Newcastle, and Tukwila. King County now has a total of 55 drop boxes. Voters continue to rely on drop boxes as a convenient way to cast their ballots. About 53% of voters returned their ballots to a drop box during the 2017 General Election. Read more

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What if everyone voted campaign image

New campaign

A voter engagement media campaign launched just before the November 2017 General Election.

The campaign featured two, 60-second videos (What would happen if everyone voted? and The Struggle) that were broadcast in movie theaters, on cable television and across social media channels for about two weeks leading up to the November 2017 General Election. The campaign was aimed at educating people about the importance of their vote. Collectively, the videos received more than 3 million views. Read more

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Data charts and graphs

Data-driven voter input

Voters surveyed about drop boxes and prepaid postage.

Elections surveyed a sample of registered voters who were part of the second pre-paid postage test. Questions were emailed to voters who cast a ballot during the April special election in Vashon. The purpose of the survey was to understand voters’ experiences with using pre-paid postage to return their ballots. Another survey was sent to voters who used the ballot drop box at the Ballard Branch Library during the November 2017 General Election. Survey responses helped Elections gauge where to install a future drop box that can relieve pressure from the Ballard location.

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