Five Washington state election officials on voting in 2020

Voters are anxious about their ballots. Here's how to make sure things go smoothly ahead of the General Election.

ballot box

A ballot drop box at Beacon Hill Library, Oct. 2, 2020, in Seattle, Wash. (Jovelle Tamayo for Crosscut)

Are you ready for the general election?

As the election approaches, we have been hearing from voters who are anxious or concerned about the upcoming election. Your local county election officials want you to know what you can do to ensure that you are registered, receive your ballot, return your ballot and be certain your ballot is counted.

In Washington state we have been voting by mail for more than 15 years. We are confident that our vote-by-mail system is safe, timely and secure. We are committed to making sure that your voices are heard. As county elections officials, we are ready for the Nov. 3 general election — are you? 

Prepare now and make a vote plan. Make sure that you’re registered to vote, and make sure your address is correct. All registered voters will automatically receive a general election ballot in the mail in mid-October. If you are registered, you do not need to call us for a ballot. The deadline to register online is Oct. 26. After that you must register in person.

Think ahead about how you’ll return your ballot. No postage is needed, whether you return your voted ballot through the mail or use one of the hundreds of ballot drop boxes located throughout the region.

Visit VoteWA.gov to register to vote, to update your registration and to find the location of the nearest ballot drop box. VoteWA.gov and county elections websites are great resources for voters; use these tools to help ensure you are prepared for the election.

Stay home, stay safe. Washington voters have the pleasure and privilege of voting from home versus standing in line for hours outside of polling places. Your ballot is delivered to your mailing address about two weeks before the Nov. 3 deadline.

For most voters, there is no need to vote in person. Keep yourself, your neighbors and your election workers safe by returning your ballot by mail or by dropping your ballot in a secure ballot drop box.     

Don’t delay. Whether you return your ballot by mail or through a ballot drop box, don’t wait until Nov. 3. Vote early to give yourself time to track your ballot and ensure it was counted, to avoid the last-minute crowds at ballot drop boxes and certainly to avoid lines on Election Day.

If you vote early, you will have plenty of time to fix any issues that might arise with your ballot, like updating your signature if necessary. An early vote also ensures that your votes are counted in election night results. There is no reason to wait — get your ballot, fill it out, get it back to us!

Your vote is secure. Voting by mail is secure. Our state has layers of physical and cyber security measures in place to protect your vote and our elections. We work tirelessly during every election to ensure a safe and secure voting process.

We cannot ignore that there is a lot of misinformation circulating about voter fraud. In Washington state, voter fraud rates are incredibly low, and attempts at fraud are few and far between. We are all proud of our respective county’s security measures and the multiple processes in place to prevent voter fraud in our vote-by-mail environment.

We’re here for you. If you need assistance, your county elections office is ready to help. Don’t hesitate to call your county elections office. We can likely assist you without your having to make a trip to the elections office or a vote center, especially if you make sure you’re already registered.

Fifteen years of voting by mail has prepared us well for this election. We have a strong partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, we’ve installed hundreds of ballot drop boxes throughout our respective counties, and we’ve prepared and planned for this election for years. We’re ready. It’s your turn to get ready, too. Make your vote plan now so you can stay home and stay safe. Vote early and track your ballot so you can fix any issues and know that your ballot was counted. Your county election officials are committed to a safe and secure election. All you need to do is vote.

About the Authors & Contributors

Julie Wise

Julie Wise

Julie Wise is the King County Director of Elections

Mary Hall

Mary Hall

Mary Hall is the Thurston County Auditor.

Garth Fell

Garth Fell

Garth Fell is the Snohomish County Auditor.