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caption: A King County voter gives a thumbs up to the next voter in line to submit their ballot at a drop box in Seattle's Lake City neighborhood. The drop box has seen a steady stream of voters walking up and driving up to turn in their ballots.
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A King County voter gives a thumbs up to the next voter in line to submit their ballot at a drop box in Seattle's Lake City neighborhood. The drop box has seen a steady stream of voters walking up and driving up to turn in their ballots.
Credit: Dyer Oxley / KUOW

Not registered to vote? Here's how to cast your ballot by Election Day in King County

Election Day is just around the corner and Washington state is seeing record numbers of received ballots. And if you're not yet registered, it’s not too late.

King County elections director Julie Wise shares some insights on how to register and vote in these finals days.


Turnout is unprecedented so far. We have already almost a million ballots here at the King County elections facility four days ahead of the election.

That is a 70% turnout, with four days before Election Day, which is record breaking here in King County. And we think we're going to see a really, really high turnout that beats maybe that 90% that we projected.

King County does typically turnout in the low 80s for a presidential election. The highest we saw was back in 2012, at 85%. So this is definitely record breaking, especially with returns so early in the election cycle. We have never seen voters return their ballots this early before an election.

We have seven vote centers across King County that we're opening this Saturday at 10 a.m. These are big event center locations to make sure that we can provide social distancing, and keep everyone safe. So you are going to literally be provided with the same paper ballot packet that you would've received in the mail.

These vote centers are a one stop shop. So if you're looking to get registered, get a ballot, vote, and return it — these locations provide all those opportunities.

So if you're looking to vote with an electronic machine, we don't have that here in King County. We've got areas for people to vote and then you can return your ballot right there. These vote centers are a one stop shop. So if you're looking to get registered, get a ballot, vote, and return it — these locations provide all those opportunities.

We're going to give you a call, email, and send you a letter [if there's a problem with your ballot]. We're going to repeat that process all the way until this election certifies on November 24. So voters still have until the day before, so November 23, to respond to any signature issue, and we can still count your ballot for this election.

[Friday, October 30] is really the last day that I would encourage anyone to use USPS to return their ballot for this election. And the reason why is that we need to have that important election day postmark.

So the Friday before election day, we always encourage voters ... if you're going to use you USPS, this should really be the last day to put it into that mail stream. After that, please use one of the 73 drop boxes across King County (or 560 across the state) to ensure that your ballot is counted. Unfortunately, each election there are thousands of ballots that are returned with a postmark after Election Day that we legally cannot count.

To be honest, [attacks on mail-in voting] is hurtful. I've dedicated my career and my life to running and administering elections in a non-partisan way here in King County. I know firsthand, that vote-by-mail is an accurate, secure and assessable election system.

If we look at the actual data, vote-by-mail is not riddled with fraud. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's minuscule. I love data. I'm an election geek. So from 2018 data, we compared our voter rolls to 30 other states. And we identified 17 voters in King County, of 1.2 million, that potentially voted in multiple states during that midterm election.

We've submitted that to the prosecuting attorney's office for further investigation. That would be 100,000th of a percent of voter fraud happening in vote-by-mail. So we need to look at the actual data, we need to look at the actual facts around vote-by-mail. And I think why we're seeing many states and jurisdictions move to vote-by-mail is because we know that it's a secure system.

And we also see that voters are more engaged in vote-by-mail. You always see your vote-by-mail states in the top 10 turnouts. So I think that says a lot.

Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.