Tom Douglas, Rick Steves join forces to remind voters to return ballots

July 19, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 4 p.m. July 19, 2012

Local elections administrators enlisted renowned chef Tom Douglas, travel guru Rick Steves, Seattle Storm players and other local celebrities to remind voters to follow ballot instructions.

The elections departments in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties, plus the Office of the Secretary of State, collaborated on the voter education project. The effort is meant to inform voters about the voting process. The celebrities involved in the campaign donated their time for the effort.

The campaign includes radio, TV and online advertisements to remind voters to sign return ballot envelopes, return ballots back on time and follow other important instructions. The deadline to return primary election ballots is Aug. 7.

“Using celebrities to help deliver our message is a strategy that we think will help us connect with more voters,” King County Elections Director Sherril Huff said in a statement. “Familiar themes take on a new energy when admired local celebrities are joining in on the ‘let’s get this right and make it count’ message. We are thrilled that our partners and local celebrities are making this contribution!”

Under the law, ballots missing signatures cannot be processed until and unless elections officials can reach voters to get signatures in time.

Each year, thousands of ballots without signatures arrive after the voting deadline. Late ballots cannot be opened and counted.

Funding for the program comes from the county elections offices and the Office of the Secretary of State. Plans call for additional celebrities to join the education campaign as the Nov. 6 general election nears.

“I’m happy to pitch in to help — if my voice in a message helps more votes get counted and saves some of our taxpayer dollars for other things, we all win!” Douglas said in a statement.

The summer primary — bumped up to Aug. 7 to accommodate military and overseas voters — allows local voters a chance to decide a property tax measure and cull the field in federal, judicial, legislative and statewide contests.

The electorate selects the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

In the Issaquah area, voters must select the top candidates for state House of Representatives and U.S. House of Representatives seats, in addition to selecting hopefuls for judicial and statewide posts.

The ballot also contains a King County property tax measure to fund a juvenile justice center, Proposition 1.

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