by Phil Manzano
The Jan. 6 hearings have focused the country on the most basic foundation of American democracy: the right to vote.
Here at the South Seattle Emerald, we’re part of the Voter Education Fund, a King County nonpartisan project to encourage as many potential voters to register and vote.
As King County Elections Director Julie Wise said in an Emerald interview, “Democracy is at its finest when all voices are heard. That’s what it’s supposed to be. My dream is 100% voter registration rate and 100% turnout.”
This guide is part of an effort to get out the vote: It’s part calendar, events and news bits, and Q&A about how, when, and where to vote. It will be updated with events and news as needed so check back from time to time.
Key Election Dates
Oct. 18: Local voters’ pamphlets mailed.
Oct. 19: Ballots mailed for General Election.
Oct. 19: Vote center at King County Elections opens for General Election.
Oct. 20: Ballot drop boxes open.
Oct. 24: Ballot return statistics available by 8 p.m.
Oct. 31: Deadline to register or update your registration online or by mail for the General Election.
Nov. 8: Election Day. Ballots must be postmarked by today or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m.
Nov. 8: Last day to register in person and vote for the General Election.
Nov. 8: Election Day results posted by 8:15 p.m.
News and Events
Future Voter Hubs
The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) “is hosting pop-up Future Voter Hubs — offering a variety of support services to help empower voters. Learn about voter eligibility, register to vote, print your personalized ballot and voter guide, and vote with us! This is a safe space to learn about voting open to ALL community members!”
Here are Future Voter Hub times and locations for the month of October:
- Future Voter Hub: Burien Library, Oct. 21, 1–5 p.m., 400 SW 152nd St., Burien
- Future Voter Hub: Federal Way Library, Oct. 24, 10 a.m.2 p.m., 34200 1st Way S, Federal Way
- Future Voter Hub: Tukwila Library, Oct. 25, 1–5 p.m., 14380 Tukwila International Blvd., Tukwila
- Future Voter Hub: Columbia City Library, Oct. 26, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., 4721 Rainier Ave. S, Seattle
- Future Voter Hub: Renton Library, Oct. 26, 3–7 p.m., 100 Mill Ave. S, Renton
- Future Voter Hub: Skyway Library, Oct. 27, 1–5 p.m., 12601 76th Ave. S, Seattle
- Future Voter Hub: Rainier Beach Library, Oct. 28, 1–5 p.m., 9125 Rainier Ave. S, Seattle
For more information about the Future Voter Hubs, contact Jude Ahmed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Combating Election Misinformation
Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and King County Elections Director Julie Wise held a joint press conference last week in an effort to combat misinformation and disinformation around the electoral process in the weeks before the Nov. 8 election.
“Through all of those years,” Wise said, “I have never experienced an elections landscape like the one we’re in today.”
“We see outright lies and conspiracy theories spread quickly online,” Wise said. “We get comments online and emails and phone calls that accuse me and my staff of voter fraud — a felony under the law — based on click-bait headlines and simply not understanding how our elections work.
Hobbs said the Vote with Confidence Campaign will air ads on television and radio and display ads at places like gas stations and convenience stores in an effort to give people information about voting, how to register, and how to find information about the elections process.
BALLOTS AND PAMPHLETS
Voter pamphlets and ballots for the Nov. 8 general election will be mailed out Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, respectively, to 1.4 million registered voters in King County. Ballots are mailed about three weeks ahead of an election; if you’re registered to vote, you’ll receive a ballot. If you haven’t received your ballot, call King County Elections at 206-296-VOTE (8683).
Who Can Vote?
According to the King County Elections website, almost any adult who is a:
- US citizen
- Legal resident of Washington
- At least 18 years old on election day
- Not disqualified by court order, not currently incarcerated for state or federal or out-of-state felony conviction.
A new Washington State law restores voting rights for those who have served a prison sentence. Upon release from prison, voting rights are restored, but people must reregister to vote. For more detailed information for voters with a felony conviction or people without a residential address, check the King County Elections website.
Also new this year are voting rights for 16- and 17-year-olds outlined in the Future Voter program. A 17-year-old who will turn 18 by the November general election can vote in the Aug. 2 primary. In Washington, 16- and 17-year-olds can sign up to be automatically registered to vote when they’re eligible.
How to Register to Vote
Registering to vote is easy. You can register to vote online or by mail up until 8 days before an election or in-person through election day. You’ll need a Washington driver’s license to register online but not for mail or in-person registration. See King County Elections’ website for more information.
Where Can I Vote?
In King County vote by mail means in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
In addition, King County opened its newest and 75th ballot dropbox location at Woodinville City Hall on July 14, the first dropbox in Woodinville city limits.
According to a press release, over 96% of registered voters live within a 3-mile radius of a drop box location. Typically, about half of voters return their ballots via drop box.
Drop boxes are open 24 hours a day and emptied at least once a day during an election.
“Drop boxes are key to accessible elections here in King County and Washington State,” said King County Elections Director Julie Wise. “Constructed of half-inch thick steel, bolted directly into concrete, equipped with multiple locking mechanisms and with tamper evident seals, drop boxes are not only convenient, but also secure.”
Find a list and interactive map of all the dropbox locations in King County on King County Elections’ website.
Editors’ Note: This article was updated to remove an event due to a shift to an invite-only format.
This story was funded in part by a Voter Education Fund grant from King County Elections and the Seattle Foundation.
Phil Manzano is a South Seattle writer, editor with more than 30 years of experience in daily journalism, and most recently was the news editor for the Emerald.
📸 Featured Image: Photo courtesy of King County Elections.
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