Issaquah drop box buzzes as voters return ballots, shatter records

November 13, 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 on Nov. 6. By Greg Farrar

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,” Lynne Miller, a King County Elections spokeswoman, said just before 7 p.m. Nov. 6.

Elections staffers used atomic clocks to determine the precise 8 p.m. deadline at ballot drop box sites countywide.

King County Elections forecast 87 percent turnout countywide — a hike from the 84 percent record set in 2008. (The county relied on a combination of mail ballots and polling sites in the last presidential election.)

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Brad Toft concedes state Senate race to Mark Mullet

November 9, 2012

NEW — 10:05 a.m. Nov. 9, 2012

Less than 24 hours after urging supporters to wait for more election results, Snoqualmie Republican Brad Toft conceded a hard-fought state Senate race to Issaquah City Councilman Mark Mullet early Friday.

Toft could not overcome the lead Mullet, a Democrat, posted on election night, and then continued to maintain as subsequent results arrived. In the most recent results released Thursday by King County Elections, Toft trailed Mullet, 54 percent to 46 percent, out of 50,681 ballots tallied.

“There’s a disappointment in what happened, but the cause goes on,” Toft said in a message to campaign supporters Friday.

Mullet declared victory after the initial election results landed Tuesday, and then disputed Toft’s assertions about a possible turnaround in subsequent days.

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Brad Toft: State Senate race is too close to call, despite Mark Mullet’s lead

November 8, 2012

NEW — 12:10 p.m. Nov. 8, 2012

The contest for the 5th Legislative District state Senate seat is too close to call, Snoqualmie Republican Brad Toft said Thursday, despite a 3,307-vote lead for Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet.

The race attracted attention in recent weeks for the insults the candidates lobbed at one another and, for a time, observers said the match-up could determine state Senate control. However, Republicans did not gain enough seats on Election Day to crack the Democrats’ majority in the chamber.

Mullet held about 54 percent — or 23,216 votes — to Toft’s 46 percent — or 19,909 votes — among more than 43,000 ballots counted in the race so far.

King County Elections is scheduled to release additional results at 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

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King County delays election results due to equipment problem

November 7, 2012

NEW — 6 p.m. Nov. 7, 2012

King County Elections planned to release results at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, but officials delayed the report until 6:30 p.m. due to a problem with the ballot-scanning system.

Officials attributed the problem to the ballot-scanning system the record volume of ballots handled by the elections office. The equipment vendor is on site at the elections headquarters in Renton, and resolved the problem by 6 p.m., officials said in a statement.

The elections office plans to include about 50,000 ballots in the next tally.

King County is the largest county in the United States to conduct all-mail elections.

Ballots continue to arrive at the elections office. Officials received about 985,000 ballots so far — or 84 percent turnout in the general election to date.

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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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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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Pragmatism defines Issaquah, Eastside voters

October 30, 2012

Local voters could choose a Democrat for the White House, a Republican for the Governor’s Mansion and split legislative seats between the parties.

Experts said voters in Issaquah and the Eastside prefer a brand of politics anchored in pragmatism, rather than party. The effort to appeal to moderate voters is intense as candidates scrounge for votes in the last days before Election Day.

“Democrats and Republicans both get elected there. I think of it as a pragmatic, rather than ideological, sort of politics, which is what Washington state used to be known for,” independent Seattle pollster Stuart Elway said. “I think the state as a whole has gotten more partisan, as the country has, and the party lines seem to have gotten harder.”

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Some voters receive two ballots due to registration changes

October 30, 2012

King County Elections officials said as many as 10,000 voters received two ballots due to recent changes in voter information and registration.

Some voters received two ballots for the Nov. 6 election because they changed their information not long before the elections office mailed ballots.

Officials said affected voters should receive a suspended ballot and a ballot with their updated information.

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King County Elections launches mobile tools

October 30, 2012

King County Elections rolled out tools for mobile devices, including a countdown clock, to help voters find the nearest ballot box and see how much time they have to return ballots.

Find the mobile tools at https://electionsdata.kingcounty.gov. The website is tailored for display on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

The portal includes a ballot drop box map and results, in addition to the election countdown clock. Users can also link to the full King County Elections website to create a customized voters’ pamphlet.

Election Day is Nov. 6, and voters must postmark or return ballots to drop boxes by 8 p.m.

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