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caption: FILE: Election worker Ed Faccone looks over a ballot to see why it would not read in a tabulating machine at a King County election tabulating center Wednesday morning, Nov. 17, 2004, in Seattle.
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FILE: Election worker Ed Faccone looks over a ballot to see why it would not read in a tabulating machine at a King County election tabulating center Wednesday morning, Nov. 17, 2004, in Seattle.
Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

King County gets another award for its election observer system

The National Association of Election Officials is recognizing King County Elections for its robust election observer system and innovative use of technology. King County Elections has now received two annual awards in a row for its observation efforts.

This is the second consecutive year King County Elections received the Eagles Award. This year, it was for adopting many virtual processes for election administration, a move spurred by the pandemic. The department now uses a range of remote work platforms, which it argues has upped efficiency and communication.

Last year, it earned an Eagle Award for its custom-built app suite to manage and track ballot collection from every drop box.

County Elections Chief of Staff Kendall Hodson says the honor is a testament to the department's commitment to transparency.

"I can't tell you how many times we've had folks who are really, genuinely skeptical about the process, and they come in and they spend time with our incredible ballot processing team, and they ultimately walk away and say, 'Wow, I had no idea how much care and attention goes into processing every single ballot,'" Hodson said.

King County won awards alongside election departments in California, Colorado, Ohio, and Missouri. They're determined based on best practices from small, medium, and large jurisdictions around the country.

Election observers in King County must be trained, and they must represent both major political parties. The counting process is also shared over a video feed.

According to Julie Wise, King County's director of elections, the department embraces "radical transparency."

"That means sharing our processes, explaining the details, and welcoming observers across the political spectrum," Wise said in a statement. "We have observers who come to us completely skeptical of the system, usually because of rumors and rhetoric. When they get to see how ballots are processed up-close and meet their neighbors who do this work every day, these same skeptical observers become our greatest advocates."