King County voters return ballots, shatter records

November 6, 2012

Cathy Gulezian, of Maple Valley (left), watches sons Brady, 2, and Dylan, 4, place ballots for her and husband Ken in a ballot drop box attended by King County Elections workers Michele Phelps and Jon Gentry at Issaquah City Hall. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 7 p.m. Nov. 6, 2012

The ballot drop box outside Issaquah City Hall transformed into a nucleus of activity as Election Day stretched into night, and voters raced to deposit ballots before the 8 p.m. deadline.

King County Elections staffers, dressed in aprons the same shade as traffic cones, directed voters to the secure box. The elections office opened the box last month and, as the ballot deadline approached and after post offices closed, more and more ballot-toting voters arrived.

“Unlike during tax season, the post office does not stay open longer hours for voting,” said Lynne Miller, a King County Elections spokeswoman.

Staffers plan to use atomic clocks to determine the precise 8 p.m. deadline at ballot drop box sites countywide. If a line forms for a drop box, voters in line at 8 p.m., can still submit ballots.

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Issaquah’s Veterans Day ceremony honors locals’ service

November 6, 2012

Due to its growing popularity, the service that the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3436 hosts honoring local services members will be in a new location this year.

David Waggoner, of the Issaquah VFW, figures the Issaquah Valley Senior Center will be large enough to house the 60 to 70 expected attendees. All residents are invited, regardless of whether they’ve served in the military.

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King County to include 520,000 ballots in initial tally

November 6, 2012

NEW — 5:30 p.m. Nov. 6, 2012

King County Elections officials said the initial tally released at about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday should include at least 520,000 ballots.

In the all-mail election, voters can return ballots to designated drop boxes by 8 p.m. The elections office opened a drop box at Issaquah City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way.

Otherwise, ballots must receive a Nov. 6 postmark.

The initial release from King County Elections is the only update for Tuesday.

The elections office plans to release the next round of results by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, and then on subsequent weekdays until the election is certified Nov. 27. Voters can resolve ballot signature issues until Nov. 26.

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King County Elections opens accessible voting centers

November 6, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 6, 2012

King County Elections opened additional accessible voting centers to enable voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot.

Officials said voting by mail is the easiest and most accessible choice for many people, but some voters have difficulty filling out mail ballots. The accessible voting centers provide voters the opportunity to vote on touchscreen accessible voting units. The units also offer specialized equipment such as audio and large and high-contrast text options.

The closest accessible voting center to Issaquah is at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E. Other locations include Green River Community College, North Seattle Community College and Seattle Union Station, plus the elections office in Renton.

The centers open at 7 a.m. and remain open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

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Tiger Mountain is test for commissioner of public lands candidates

October 30, 2012

Tiger Mountain is a destination for hikers, mountain bikers and loggers, and the official responsible for acting as a referee to balance the competing interests is the state commissioner of public lands.

Clint Didier

Peter Goldmark

Republican Clint Didier is challenging the incumbent, Democrat Peter Goldmark, to serve as the top natural resources official in Washington.

The commissioner of public lands leads the state Department of Natural Resources, and oversees about 3 million acres of forests, agricultural land and other properties, as well as about 2.6 million acres of shorelines, tidelands, lakes and rivers.

The position carries outsized influence in the Issaquah area. The agency is often a factor in local policymaking, due to the connections among the Department of Natural Resources, Issaquah City Hall and outdoor recreation groups.

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Strong turnout predicted as ballots reach voters

October 23, 2012

King County Elections mailed more than 1.16 million ballots to voters Oct. 17, as all-mail voting started in federal, state and local contests.

The election marks the first presidential contest since King County started conducting all-mail elections and since Washington transitioned to a vote-by-mail state.

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Statewide earthquake drill shakes up preparedness plan

October 23, 2012

Tina Eggers (left), city clerk, Megan Gregor, city passport and records specialist, and Mary Lorna Meade, city risk management officer, take shelter under desks at Issaquah City Hall at 10:18 a.m. Oct. 18. By Greg Farrar

Staffers flooded from Issaquah City Hall and other municipal buildings at 10:18 a.m. Oct. 18 as employees joined a statewide earthquake drill.

The preparedness exercise involved public employees throughout the city, plus residents throughout the city and state, as planners tested residents’ ability to respond to a temblor.

The city official responsible for disseminating information to the public during emergencies, Communications Coordinator Autumn Monahan, said frequent disaster preparedness exercises educate city employees about the proper procedures to follow in worst-case scenarios.

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King County Elections mails 1.16 million ballots to voters

October 17, 2012

NEW — 9:30 a.m. Oct. 17, 2012

King County Elections plans to mail more than 1.16 million ballots to voters Wednesday as all-mail voting starts in federal, state and local contests.

The election marks the first presidential contest since King County started conducting all-mail elections and since Washington transitioned to a vote-by-mail state.

“Voters should watch for their ballots in the mail and contact us if they haven’t received it by Monday, Oct. 22,” Elections Director Sherril Huff said in a statement. “We anticipate a high turnout, and we encourage all voters to get their ballots voted and returned no later than the Election Day deadline — the earlier, the better.”

King County voters should also start receiving voters’ pamphlets in the mail in the coming days. Voters receive a local pamphlet from the county and a state pamphlet from the Office of the Secretary of State.

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Voters can meet congressional, legislative candidates at forum

October 16, 2012

Hear from the candidates for offices in Olympia and Washington, D.C., Oct. 18 at a candidate forum cosponsored by The Issaquah Press, the American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters.

The lineup includes candidates for the state House of Representatives and state Senate, plus Democrat Karen Porterfield, a candidate to represent Issaquah in Congress.

The forum is meant to offer voters a chance to learn about local candidates as the clock ticks down to Election Day. King County Elections is due to mail ballots to voters by Oct. 19.

Voters can join the event at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Issaquah City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way. Or, Issaquah residents can also watch the candidate forum live on the local government access channel, ICTV Channel 21.

State audit prompts changes to city finances

October 16, 2012

State auditors chided Issaquah officials for inadequate financial oversight, but also praised the city for correcting problems, in a routine financial audit released Sept. 26.

Auditors examined municipal finances for 2011 and discovered officials lacked adequate internal controls in place to ensure accurate accounting and timely financial reporting.

The problem arose from staff turnover in key financial positions and, as a result, the city did not have sufficient controls in place and could not prepare financial statements on time.

City officials acknowledged the finding, and hired staffers for the positions affected by turnover, and changed policies to increase accountability and transparency.

The team from the state Auditor’s Office said the changes adequately addressed the concerns uncovered in the audit.

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