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From the director

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Dear Friends,

As I reflect on 2021, one word that keeps coming to mind is gratitude. I'm grateful to live and work in a place that continues to remove barriers to voting. I'm grateful for incredible voters who make their voices heard and get involved. And I'm grateful for a term that never hesitates to put in the hard work it takes to ensure all voters can meaningfully participate in our elections. 

While 2021 was undoubtedly a hard year for all election administrators, my team continued to amaze me with their commitment and dedication to accessible, secure, and accurate elections. 

We came together to conduct and fully reconcile five (yes, really FIVE!) elections. We dug in and worked together to define our organizational values and affirm our mission and vision statements. We found new ways to increase transparency and pushed the envelope on voter education, supported our election colleagues around the state and country, and welcomed more election observers to Elections HQ than ever before. 

Our team is ready to face the challenges and opportunities ahead. We will continue to put our shared values of accuracy, integrity, equity, service, teamwork, and transparency into action every single day.

Sincerely,

Signature for Director of Elections Julie Wise

Julie Wise
Director of Elections

Nationally Recognized for Innovative Work

In 2021, King County Elections was honored to be recognized by both the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and the Elections Center for innovation in elections. 

We were honored to be awarded the EAC's Clearinghouse Award for Outstanding Innovation (Large Jurisdiction) for our first-of-its-kind Voter Education Fund. This award is designed to recognize programs that creatively improve election administration and advance new and innovative concepts. 

KCE was also awarded the Elections Center Eagles Award - Use of Technology for the Esri application suite that powers our impressive ballot collective operation. This custom app suite improves efficiency and communication by providing real-time tracking and data from our ballot collection teams while they're out emptying drop boxes and transporting ballots back to the KCE facility. 

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Welcomed Observers & Focused on Transparency

2021 brought a record number of both observers to our facility and public records requests to our inboxes here at King County Elections (KCE). Our team collaborated with both major political parties to increase the access that observers have within our facility, responded to public disclosure requests that have increased in both volume and complexity, and answered thousands of questions about what the law says about accessing and returning a ballot. 

Our team also debuted a new data dashboard that features a variety data points on ballot returned. Users can filter by ballot status, age, district or jurisdiction, and more. Publicly available on our website and updated at least twice daily during the voting period, the ballot return statistics dashboard provides near real-time data on the ballots our voters have returned. 

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Demystified What It Takes To Come A Candidate 

Democracy works best when all voices are heard. KCE works to remove barriers to voting and create more entry points to our democracy. That's why we want to make it easier and a little less intimidating to run for office. 

Throughout the spring, our team hosted a series of candidate workshops that trained 155 potential candidates for office. Workshops covered topics like filing requirements, deadlines, and fees, as well as Voters' Pamphlet statement guidelines. The Public Disclosure Commission and Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission also joined us to talk about campaign finance rules and the City of Seattle's democracy voucher program. 

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Continued to Push the Envelope on Voter Education & Outreach

KCE's Voter Education Fund (VEF) kicked off its fifth grant cycle with nearly $1 million in grant dollars to thirty organizations over a two-year period (2021-2022). VEF was created to deliver accurate information about elections to historically excluded communities from an already trusted messenger. 

VEF community partners receive resources for voter education and trainings from KCE. Partners are provided with the materials and knowledge they need to reach voters and engage them in the electoral process.

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Piloted Risk Limiting Audits

Following the August Primary, the team tested the latest in election audits, the Risk Limiting Audit (RLA). A Risk Limiting Audit is a post-election audit that checks a random sample of individual ballots to provide strong evidence that the reported outcome is correct. RLAs use a formula to determine how many ballots need to be audited to be statistically confidence in the results. 

In partnership with the Secretary of State's Office, our piloted included a test election of 3,300 ballots. 108 of those ballots were audited. The pilot was successful and confirmed the accuracy of KCE's processes and procedures. Our team is regularly looking for ways to ensure that the system is working the way it's supposed to and RLAs give us another tool to confirm the integrity of our elections. 

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Conducted a December Recall Election

In December, Seattle City Council District 3 saw the city's first recall election on the ballot since 1975. Just weeks after voting in the November General, 54% of registered voters in the district weighed in on whether to recall or retain their city councilmember. 

KCE opened a Vote Center in District 3 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute to provide in-person service in the final days of voting. While the election was relatively small with only 75,000 registered voters, there was robust interest in the election from both voters and media. 

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TTY: Relay 711

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