VOTE!

Today, I am taking a little break from my usual recipes, restaurant reviews, and PNW exploration to share information on voting in King County. The 2020 election is so critical from the presidential election at the top, down to state elections and City/County referendums that impact day-to-day life in your neighborhood. In Seattle and King County, we universally vote by mail which is safe, secure, private, and convenient. Washington State is a leader in vote-by-mail and anyone who is registered will automatically receive a ballot by mail. Not registered? You have until October 26th to register online or election day (November 3rd) to register in person. Learn how to vote in this video and the tips below!



1. Do Your Research


One of my favorite things about voting in Washington is the voters guide (pdf version). This paper and online magazine is distributed by the County and/or State before every election and includes statements and information about all the candidates, propositions, referendums, and ballot measures. The voting guide will be mailed to your house a few weeks before the election. If you live in a larger apartment building, check for your guide in the lobby or mail room. My old apartment building always had a large stack right in the lobby before each primary and general election.


For many folks, we might know who is running for president or governor but King County Superior Court? State Auditor? Commissioner of Public Lands? Yes! There is information about all these candidates which can help you complete your entire ballot. There is also general information to help you understand voting, the legislative process, and ballot measures. Most candidates include links to their websites so you can always go online and read more. Candidates also often share past debates and videos from their social media channels. All these methods can be great ways to learn their views on key issues that matter to you.


2. Make a Plan


2020 isn't like a lot of other election years. Standing in a crowded polling place on election day might not be the right option for your health this year. Mail delivery may be slower than usual due to US Postal Service funding shortages. Ballot return boxes may be misleading, confusing, or even possibly illegal in your area - fortunately, this hasn't been the case in Washington, but it has in California. It's critical to know what your plan will be for this election. Given that I live in Seattle, I was able to receive my ballot in the mail, complete the ballot at home, and return it to the ballot drop box nearest to me. Planning out your preferred voting method and schedule will help you prepare.


3. Get Your Ballot

First, you will need to confirm that you are registered to vote and your current mailing address. You can check online through the State of Washington and make sure that your ballot will be mailed to the correct location (especially if you have recently moved, are out of town, or living/serving abroad). Once you have confirmed that your address is correct, your ballot will be mailed directly to you. Most ballots are mailed 3 weeks prior to election day and should arrive by October 19th. I live in Seattle and received my ballot on October 16th. If vote-by-mail does not work for you, special accessible, in-person and online options are available.


4. Complete Your Ballot


Once you've done your research and prepared your voting plan, you are ready to complete your ballot! If you are voting absentee/by mail like I did, you will want to make sure to carefully read all the instructions about completing the ballot. Completely fill in the ovals next to your preferred candidates. If you make a mistake, cross out the mistake (oval and candidate name/description) and fill in your preferred oval. Remember, you don't have to vote in every race/measure; your vote will only be counted for completed ovals. Once you have completed the ballot, you will need to review and sign the ballot envelope. Your signature confirms that you are eligible to vote and is compared to your signature in the voter registration database for accuracy.


5. Return & Track Your Ballot!


If you're voting absentee/by mail you will need to return your ballot. In Washington, all ballots must either be post-marked by November 3rd, or dropped in an election drop box by 8pm that night. King County highly recommends completing and returning your ballot at least 1 week prior to election day (October 27th) if you are going to mail it. No stamp is required for mail-in ballots. If you plan to drop off your ballot in person, there are official drop boxes all across King County. Here's a list of drop boxes - find the one closest to you. Once you have mailed or dropped off your ballot, you can track it online. This will be your way to confirm that your vote has been counted.


Let's Chat


Will you be voting this year? What are the rules or procedures in your area? Do you vote by mail/absentee? What is your voting plan? Share your ideas and experiences below.



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