Ballots, Theft, and what it Means for You

Photo credit Chris Phan under CC-BY-SA-3.0

‘Tis the season for voting, and ballots all across Washington State have been rolling out over the past week. If you haven’t received your ballot by now, however, foul play may be involved. On Oct. 17, K5 news reported that Sammamish police recovered ballots discarded on Sahalee Way and found dozens more in bags of stolen mail. The Redmond post office also reported finding 35 ballots in an outgoing mailbox in which they didn’t belong. Whether or not the motive was political is undecided, but the trend is worrisome – and spreading. In California, a man was reportedly caught on camera stealing mail including ballots from houses in an Escondido neighborhood, and in Colorado Springs a similar incident happened last week. 

Given the recent thefts, make sure that you have received your ballot by now. If yours hasn’t arrived, request a new one at the King County website immediately. When you have filled out your ballot, drop it off at a secure site to ensure it gets counted. While mail-in voting is still an option, there are risks of people stealing them out of your mailboxes, getting lost in transit, or not arriving until after they can be counted. With the current uncertainty of the Postal Service, mailing your ballot presents more risks than dropping it at a secure ballot drop box. A recent article from MIT explains that almost four percent of mail-in votes weren’t counted in 2016, and the number could be much greater this year. The reasons that your ballot might not be counted can be as simple as not filling all the bubbles, or forgetting to date or sign the outside of the envelope. Even if a candidate is running unopposed, or it’s a race for a small office, it is best to still fill in the bubble to make sure your ballot isn’t marked incomplete or sent back. Whenever you’re unsure, refer back to the instructions provided with your ballot and follow them as closely as possible. For a comprehensive guide of voting deadlines visit here, and for a list of safe drop off locations visit here.  

This election is important, and your vote matters, so take the extra precautions and make sure it’s counted!