Ballots’ journey juggles security, transparency

October 25, 2011

Odyssey leads from Everett printer to voter to Renton office

King County Elections places a huge mail order each year.

Officials must secure enough ballots for more than 1 million voters spread across a county larger than Rhode Island. Then, the elections office is responsible for ensuring a secure — and hassle-free — process to distribute, authenticate and tally ballots on a strict deadline.

Matthew Chan uses a practiced flip of the wrists to levitate voter ballots from a tray onto a sorting machine at King County Elections in Renton during the August primary. By Greg Farrar

The complicated process starts on a printing press in Everett and ends in a tabulation machine in Renton. The voter is situated in the middle, black ink pen at the ready.

The job to print almost 1.1 million ballots is delegated to a commercial printer. The elections office oversees the process as Everett-based K&H Election Services prints and inserts ballots into envelopes.

The printer creates ballots for King County and jurisdictions across the United States. Then, ballots stacked on pallets await shipment to voters.
“At any given time, you can see boxes that are shrink-wrapped with ballots that go to all different kinds of counties,” King County Elections spokeswoman Kim van Ekstrom said.

About 20 days before Election Day, as TV campaign advertisements reach cruel-and-unusual-punishment status, the U.S. Postal Service starts to mail ballot packets to voters.

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King County bans unwanted door-to-door solicitation

October 25, 2011

Residents in rural and unincorporated King County gained a tool to discourage door-to-door solicitors due to a recent County Council decision.

If a resident posts a “No Soliciting” or “No Trespassing” sign on his or her property, then a commercial solicitor is prohibited from contacting the resident. Under the ordinance, violators face a $100 fine.

The regulation adopted by the council Oct. 3 applies to more than 300,000 residents in unincorporated areas.

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Stamp sales earn Costco a national honor from U.S. Postal Service

May 10, 2011

Costco received a top honor May 3 for a successful business partnership between the Issaquah-based company and the U.S. Postal Service.

The warehouse club earned a Corporate Business Achievement Award, a distinction reserved for a select group of postal customers. The honor acknowledges and recognizes Costco for contributions to the continued success of the mailing industry

David Fuller, Costco assistant vice president for publishing, accepted the award at the National Postal Forum in San Diego. Costco employs 2,700 people in Issaquah, more than any other business.

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Issaquah Post Office to offer class for small business owners

May 7, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 7, 2011

Entrepreneurs can learn tips to boost business as the U.S. Postal Service hosts a Grow Your Business Day workshop in Issaquah.

The workshop is meant to help proprietors promote small businesses using direct mail, sans the cost of mailing lists or permits. Entrepreneurs can attend at workshop 2 p.m. Monday at the Issaquah Post Office, 400 N.W. Gilman Blvd. Seating is limited, so people interested in attending should register beforehand.

The just-launched Every Door Direct Mail service is the first in a series of postal service initiatives to make using the mail to expand business more efficient and affordable.

In the hourlong presentation, postal experts show how easy selecting a campaign message, choosing a target audience and prepare Every Door Direct Mail mailings can be.

Costco earns national honor from U.S. Postal Service

May 3, 2011

NEW — 12:45 p.m. May 3, 2011

Costco received a top honor Tuesday for a successful business partnership between the Issaquah-based company and the U.S. Postal Service.

The warehouse club earned a Corporate Business Achievement Award, a distinction reserved for a select group of postal customers. The honor acknowledges and recognizes Costco for contributions to the continued success of the mailing industry

David Fuller, Costco assistant vice president for publishing, accepted the award at the National Postal Forum in San Diego. Costco employs 2,700 people in Issaquah, more than any other business.

Costco joined the stamp consignment program through the postal service to offer postage stamps to warehouse customers. The company started a test in 18 warehouses by placing pallet-sized displays containing 8-inch-by-11-inch placards depicting the Forever Stamp for sale in 100-count packs.

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Local residents participate overwhelmingly in census

May 4, 2010

Most Issaquah residents — 76 percent — had participated in the nationwide census by last week.

To complete the decennial count, census workers will start visiting homes in May. April 16 marked the deadline to return census forms by mail. Census workers will soon fan out across neighborhoods to visit households that did not return the forms.

The return rate for Issaquah exceeds state and national averages. Statewide, 74 percent had returned census forms by last week. Washington has also exceeded the participation rate for the 2000 Census. Officials reported the national participation rate at 72 percent last week.

Issaquah lags behind neighboring Sammamish: 80 percent of residents there returned census forms.

Track the numbers on the U.S. Census Bureau website.

The mail participation rate reflects the percentage of forms mailed back by households. Census Bureau officials developed the measure for the 2010 count, in part because of the recession and accompanying higher rates of vacant housing.

The rate excludes households with forms that were returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable, suggesting a vacant house. Temporary census workers will follow up with undeliverable addresses.

Leave food donations for mail carriers May 8

May 4, 2010

The National Association of Letter Carriers presents the Stamp Out Hunger food drive May 8.

Put nonperishable donations in a bag by your mailbox and your local carrier will deliver it to the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

The bank especially needs the following items: baby formula, paper products (toilet paper, tampons), cereal (boxed), chili or stew (canned), peas and corn (canned), meat (canned), juice boxes, salt, sugar, cooking oil, and low-salt and low-sugar canned goods.

Do not donate items that have expired or are in glass containers.

Census forms sent to Sammamish have wrong cities

March 30, 2010

The upcoming census left out Sammamish — at least on the forms sent to Sammamish residents. Read more

City seeks bids for I-90 Undercrossing

February 2, 2010

The city is accepting construction bids for the Interstate 90 Undercrossing, a long-planned connector from Northwest Gilman Boulevard to Southeast 56th Street. Read more

City seeks contractor for long-planned I-90 Undercrossing

January 27, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 27, 2010

Officials seek construction bids for the Interstate 90 Undercrossing, a long-planned connector from Northwest Gilman Boulevard to Southeast 56th Street.

City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock put the project out to contractors for bid after the City Council cleared a final pre-development hurdle last week.

After the city receives bids, Brock expects staffers will select a finalist within the next few weeks. He hopes for the City Council to award the contract in March. The sluggish economy could make for bids at lower amounts than officials expect.

Officials budgeted about $3 million for undercrossing work in 2010. The overall cost of the endeavor included in the Capital Improvement Plan — a sweeping guide to all types of city projects — is $13 million.

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