Election ballots are piling up in King County drop boxes at an unprecedented rate, officials said Sunday, after contending with some full boxes — and an unpleasant surprise in West Seattle.
King County Elections workers received reports Saturday about full drop boxes in several locations, such as West Seattle Junction, Seattle Central College, Broadview, Sammamish City Hall and Issaquah City Hall, spokesperson Kendall LeVan Hodson said.
Ballots were mailed to voters this past Wednesday. Typically, King County Elections workers don’t start emptying drop boxes until the first Monday after ballots are mailed, LeVan Hodson said. “That was true in 2016, for example,” she said.
But this year’s election is already proving extraordinary. “Knowing there was so much enthusiasm to vote, we decided to start pickups on Saturday,” LeVan Hodson said.
That decision paid off, because multiple drop boxes filled up Saturday, LeVan Hodson said. Some drop boxes had to be emptied more than once, including a drop box in Ballard.
More pickups were scheduled for Sunday. Each drop box holds up to 5,000 ballots, though they can appear full with fewer ballots, depending on how the ballots are stuffed in.
King County Elections also responded Saturday to a messy situation in West Seattle Junction, where there were multiple reports that someone had jammed cardboard with feces into a drop box. West Seattle Blog was first to report on the Junction’s drop box filling up and on the feces problem.
“Poo update — ballots are fine, box is good to go,” King County Elections wrote on Twitter Saturday night, after workers paid a visit. “Still watch your step as the team didn’t have materials with them to clean up the sidewalk — also, it’s a good night to thank an election worker!”
The feces didn’t reach the ballots inside the drop box, King County Elections said. Even if the ballots had been soiled, they still would have been valid.
King County Elections Director Julie Wise has said turnout in Washington state’s most populous county could hit 90% this election. That would eclipse King County’s previous high of 85%, in the 2012 general election.
“It’s hard to tell” whether Saturday’s busy drop boxes should be interpreted as a sign there will be record turnout or “just that people are anxious” to get their ballots submitted right away, LeVan Hodson said.
This past week, Wise said plainclothes security officers would be keeping an eye on various King County drop boxes. There will be officers on duty at every drop box from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, according to King County Elections. “We are ready for anything this election is going to throw our way,” Wise said.
King County voters who encounter full drop boxes (or feces at drop boxes) can reach King County Elections by phone at 206-296-VOTE (8683). During weekends, the phone line isn’t staffed, but voters can leave voice messages.
Alternatively, voters can contact King County Elections via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts that are monitored during weekends, LeVan Hodson said. Voters can also vote by mail, rather than drop box, she noted.
Snohomish and Pierce county election officials didn’t immediately share updates Sunday on traffic at their ballot drop boxes.
Like King County, Snohomish County has arranged for security at drop boxes “throughout the voting period,” Auditor Garth Fell said this past week.