Sadiya Ali walks to the ballot drop box to vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, in front of the Rainier Beach Community Center in Seattle.
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Sadiya Ali walks to the ballot drop box to vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, in front of the Rainier Beach Community Center in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

How many registered to vote on Election Day, now that Washington allows it?

A new law allows same-day voter registration in Washington state and a brand-new software system (VoteWA) to securely store voter information.

Here's how it was used for the first time, this August primary.

115 voters.

That's how many signed up on Election Day in King County this year, in the first year the state allowed it to happen.

People were allowed to register in person, and vote, all the way through election night.

270 voters.

That's how many first-time voters signed up during the primary election season (including 115 on Election Day).

800 voters.

Even more people used the same-day registration system to update their address or voter information. In all, more than 800 in King County utilized the new voting law.

"Which is really exciting to see in a relatively, king of quiet primary, local, odd-year election," said Julie Wise, director of King County Elections.

Not ready for November

This week's election was a success in Washington from the standpoint of election officials.

Some local election offices had worried they'd have trouble with processing ballots, since the Washington Secretary of State's office rolled out a new voter database just before the primary.

But Wise said everything was processed on time.

"I'm really happy, I'm just as happy as the secretary of state that we had a successful election," she said.

But are the state's voting systems ready for November?

"No," Wise said.

She said the voter database that tracks names, addresses, and voting history is not ready today to go forward into the large November election or the 2020 presidential election.

"We need it to be functioning correctly," she said, "where we're not issuing voters multiple ballots or the incorrect ballot, we need it to be performing correctly and accurately, and that we've got our election administrators across the state really trained up on this new system."

Wise and several other election directors were critical of the Secretary of State's office for switching to new voter software shortly before this week's primary.

Wise said that led to problems in ballot mailings, such as double ballots or no mailed ballot for a small number of voters.

Two-thirds of the state didn't vote

That is typical for a primary, non-presidential year election. Statewide, at last count, 27.8 percent of voters returned a ballot in the primary election.

In King County specifically, turnout was 31 percent. In the 2017, the King County primary turnout was 34 percent, and in 2015 it stood at 25 percent.

Tens of thousands more voters are expected to turn out in November, when city and county council races will be decided. The primary sent the two top candidates to the general election in November.