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From the director

Julie Wise, Director of Elections

I am happy to share with you King County Elections’ Year in Review for 2018. I’m very proud of our many accomplishments. We’ve selected seven that we believe embody our mission to improve voter access and to conduct fair, open and accurate elections.

I am encouraged by our ongoing efforts to remove barriers to voting. For the first time in King County history, we successfully launched prepaid postage for the primary and general elections. Voters greatly appreciated this option as more than two-thirds of them returned their ballots through the U.S. Postal Service. Elections also opened 10 new ballot drop boxes throughout the County, for a current 66. Many of the new additions were in cities and communities receiving their first drop box.

Our Voter Education Fund, a partnership with Seattle Foundation, invested more than $460,000 in the County’s diverse communities. The program funded 33 local organizations that focused on voter outreach in their communities.

In our efforts to update security procedures, we invited state and federal officials to conduct independent audits of King County Elections. The state audit assessed the security of Elections’ IT system and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security inspected the physical security of the Elections building.

Lastly, voter turnout for the November General Election was the highest for a midterm election in nearly half a century. Our record voter participation was due to a number of factors, including greater public interest in elections as well as the availability of prepaid postage and additional drop boxes.

As we head into 2019, I’m excited about the future. We’re implementing new legislation that improves voter access, including providing voter registration through Election Day and pre-registering 16- and 17-year-olds to vote so they can automatically receive their ballots when they turn 18. We’re also following up on recommendations from the state and federal audits by developing a strategy to assess and manage risks. I look forward to 2019 being another transformative year.


Signature for Director of Elections Julie Wise

Julie Wise
Director of Elections

Prepaid postage return envelope

Prepaid Postage Launches Countywide

With funding and support from the King County Council and Executive, King County Elections provided prepaid postage on ballot return envelopes for the 2018 primary and general elections.

As seen in two prepaid postage pilots in 2017, voters returned ballots through the U.S. Postal Service at higher rates than in the past (67% in the primary and 60% in the general), indicating a clear switch in voter preference and behavior. Read more

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Voter returning ballot at drop box

New Ballot Drop Boxes Open

Since 2016, Elections has increased the number of permanent ballot drop boxes from 10 to 66.

About 95% of county residents now live within 3 miles of a drop box. Drop boxes are an important tool for improving voter access and are especially popular with last-minute voters. A majority of voters who use drop boxes return their ballots on Election Day or the day before. Read more

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Voter Education Fund participants

Voter Education Fund Invests in Diverse Communities

The Voter Education Fund, a partnership between King County Elections and the Seattle Foundation, completed its third successful year of voter engagement efforts targeting the County’s historically underrepresented communities.

The program invested more than $460,000 in 33 organizations that serve communities of color, limited-English speaking communities, people with disabilities, low-income youth, veterans, people experiencing homelessness, people who have been convicted of a felony and other underserved populations. Read more

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Returned ballot envelopes

Historic Midterm Election Turnout

Voter turnout for the November General Election was 76%, which is the highest turnout for a midterm election in nearly 50 years.

A number of factors contributed to King County’s record voter participation, including greater public awareness and interest in elections this year. Turnout was further aided by the availability of prepaid postage and additional ballot drop boxes, both of which made it easier than ever to return a ballot in King County. Read more

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Tabulation equipment

Most Results Posted on Election Night

King County Elections posted the most results on election night since implementing vote-by-mail in 2009.

Initial results for the November midterm election included more than 660,000 ballots. This is due to voters returning their ballots earlier than in previous elections as well as newer scanning equipment that is able to produce faster results.

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Computer code

State and Federal Audits Completed

At the request of Elections Director Julie Wise, state and federal officials in 2018 conducted independent audits of King County Elections.

The Washington State Auditor’s cybersecurity team assessed the security of Elections’ IT systems and ability to thwart hacking attempts. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security inspected the physical security of the Elections building. Elections is now in the process of implementing recommendations from both audits.

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Two men marching for right to vote

King County Elections Wins National Awards

King County Elections received national recognition for its efforts to improve voter turnout with a 2017 media campaign, expanded drop boxes and prepaid postage.

The department took home the Election Center’s Democracy Award, and received top honors from the National Association of Counties, the American Association of Political Consultants and online magazine Campaign and Elections.

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