Boxes of special election ballots returned to King County Elections in 2014. • Photo by King County
Boxes of special election ballots returned to King County Elections in 2014. • Photo by King County

On Tuesday, November 3, voters submitted ballots that will determine the fate of election reform, a transportation levy, taxes and elected officials. A majority of submitted ballots are now in the process of being counted and tabulated by Election Offices in Washington. However, a small portion of ballots may not be counted. During the August 2015 Primary Election almost 2% of ballots had a signature error, resulting in over 5,000 ballots across the state that were submitted but never counted.

Every election there is a handful of ballots that must verify the identity of a voter through a “challenge letter.” There are several reasons why a ballot would need re-verification such as: a signature that does not match the voter file, a voter’s signature is unclear, an incomplete signature on the ballot, or no signature entirely. Any voter, whose ballot is being “challenged” will receive a follow up letter from the Elections Office asking the voter to verify their signature. Although the last day to vote has passed, these voters will have until November 23 at 4:30pm to verify their signature.

If you are a voter who received a challenge letter, there are three ways to ensure that your vote can still be counted. The first way is to sign the letter from the Election Office and mail it back to them at King County Elections (919 Southwest Grady Way, Renton, WA 98057). The second is to email your materials to [email protected] Lastly you may fax your signed letter to King County Elections at (206) 296-4499. For any questions about this process call King County Elections at (206) 205-5686, this line also has over 100 language interpreters available for limited English speaking individuals.

To ensure that a ballot has been counted, a voter can visit the following website: https://info.kingcounty.gov/elections/ballottracker.aspx. The voter simply needs to enter in their name and birthday to track their ballot.

The Asian Pacific Islander Coalition believes that your vote and your voice is critical to our democratic process. Each ballot that is submitted is a voice that deserves to be heard in our community. While the number of ballots “challenged” is fairly small, compared to the number of ballots that are successfully submitted, every vote deserves to be included in the final vote count. Take action today to ensure that your ballot is counted.

Monica Ng is Civic Engagement Program Manager for the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition and Asian Counseling and Referral Services.

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