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.
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.
Each packet contains a signature envelope, security envelope and ballot. The arrangement is meant to ensure voters’ anonymity as elections staffers open, authenticate and tabulate ballots.