King County office tries to make voting easier
By Any Chang - Staff Reporter
The state and King County are working to make voting as easy as possible, particularly in communities where voter turn-out is low, a King County Elections official said here recently.
With state and local elections coming up this month, King County wishes to see more people take part in the decision making, Deputy Director of King County Elections Nathan Valderas, who visited a class at Highline recently.
King County Elections' mot- to is, "What if everyone voted?" Valderas said. The office's goal is to have "fair, open and accu- rate elections."
One of their goals is to get more young people to vote, as no group of Americans votes less.
"If young people start voting as soon as they can, they turn it into a habit," Valderas said.
King County Elections teamed up with Seattle Foundation to fund 33 organizations all around the county known as Voter Education Fund.
The groups work on helping people vote by hosting events. These organizations work on things such as informing voters on how the voting system works, what is on the ballot, and language assistance, he told students.
Valderas also said that the state is also implementing a pre-registration for 16- and 17- year-olds, which means that they will be able to vote as soon as they turn 18, starting in 2019.
Future automatic voter registration will also make it easier for those who are already getting their Washington state IDs or license. People are now able to register with preferred languages thanks to newly offered language services.
The deadline to register online was Oct. 8. However, you can still register to vote in person until Oct. 29. You can register at the King County Elec tions office, located at 919 SW Grady Way, Renton. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
All voting in Washington state is done by mail, including prepaid postage for ballots.
King County is already the largest county in the nation to vote entirely by mail, so making the ballots prepaid has made it easier for those who receive a ballot to be able to return it, said Valderas. You can also check the progress of your ballot online.
To track your ballot online you can go to www.kingcounty.gov and click the "Elections" link under the departments tab, then click on "My Voter Information."
There are accessible voting centers in various locations, and 66 ballot drop boxes all around the county (including one at Highline).
Ballots are collected from the drop boxes at 8 p.m. on election day. Ballots will be counted after 8 p.m. and the election will be certified by Nov. 26.
Valderas said Washington elections are very secure. The system is not connected to the internet, so it can't be hacked.
Elections workers also check every signature against the database, and can request clarification from a voter if signature don't match.